Campus: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- March 03, 2003

Cal Poly Seeks Permission To Build New Campus Housing for 2,700 Students Through Partnership with Capstone Corp.

Cal Poly is asking California State University trustees for conceptual approval to enter a public-private partnership to develop a 2,700-bed apartment-style student housing complex on campus, to be phased in during the next three years.

The university has received a proposal from Capstone Development Corp., a private firm that builds and operates student housing complexes on or near university campuses across the nation, to develop the complex.

Under the proposal, Capstone would finance, develop and build the student housing project. On successful completion and delivery of the project and acceptance by Cal Poly, the CSU system would issue bonds to purchase the project from Capstone. The bonds would be repaid through revenues generated by rent paid by students living in the new housing, explained Larry Kelley, Cal Poly’s vice president for administration and finance.

Cal Poly would manage the complex as part of its student housing operations, said Kelley.

To offset the loss of agricultural land used for the campus housing project, Capstone is also proposing to transfer ownership of 1,254 acres of prime agricultural land in the Edna Valley to the university – including established commercial vineyards, grazing land and equestrian facilities.

“We believe this is a win/win situation for the university and the community,” said Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker. “Adding more student housing on campus has always been an important part of our planning. For the past several years, we have been looking for a cost effective public-private partnership that meets state requirements so that we can accelerate our plans for additional affordable student housing. We firmly believe that approval of this project will be a significant asset to the campus and will help alleviate some of the community housing pressures."

Capstone’s proposal calls for construction of a campus student housing complex that would include one-, two-, and four-bedroom apartments, a recreational swimming pool and parking for 2,000 cars. The firm estimates it could build the project for under $270 million.

If approved by trustees, the project would bring the total student housing available on the Cal Poly campus to 6,280 beds by 2006. The campus currently has 2,780 student housing beds. An additional 800-bed student complex is currently under construction and scheduled to open this fall.

The campus housing complex proposed by Capstone would be built on a site previously identified in the campus master plan as a location for student housing, near the 800-bed apartment complex currently under construction. The 27-acre site proposed for the 2,700-bed project is currently used by Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture in support of Animal Science programs.

“This area was identified in the university master plan as a site ideal for future conversion to student housing,” stressed Linda Dalton, Cal Poly’s executive vice provost for planning and chief planning officer. "This location meets all seven principles identified for new residential communities on campus, including enhanced opportunities for student learning, a range of housing choices, availability of support services, accessibility, quality, financial feasibility and sensitivity to community impacts.

To offset the loss of grazing land, Capstone is proposing to transfer ownership of 1,254 acres of prime agricultural land just south of the San Luis Obispo city limits to Cal Poly for use by equestrian program students and Horticulture and Crop Science Department programs.
The acreage is a part of Edna Ranch and includes a 277-acre vineyard, a 28-stall horse barn, a riding ring, a hay barn and a caretaker’s residence at the equestrian site. If the proposal is approved, Cal Poly plans to continue to use the property for agricultural purposes in support of its educational mission. A full-time Cal Poly staff employee would occupy the caretaker’s residence to monitor the care and use of the ranch land and facilities.

“This would be a tremendous benefit to our students and several of our agriculture programs,” said College of Agriculture Dean David Wehner. “It would also be a significant asset to the wine and viticulture program currently being developed at Cal Poly.”

Existing chardonnay, syrah and pinot noir vineyards on the ranch would provide an “outdoor lab” for Horticulture and Crop Science students. Income from the vineyards – currently in premium wine grape production – would provide resources to Cal Poly and the College of Agriculture’s academic programs, Wehner added.

The California State University Board of Trustees will consider the proposal at their March 11 meeting. If approved by the trustees, initial planning can continue with further board review and action in May.

For more details on Capstone, visit the Web site of its Capstone West division in San Diego at:,
or its corporate Web site at:
Contact: Bill Boldt, Vice President, Advancement (805) 756-1445

Cal Poly-Capstone Student Housing Proposal: FAQs

Will the new housing complex be apartments or traditional residence hall-style units?
A: The facility will have one-, two-, and four bedroom apartments—each with full kitchen facilities. The complex will also offer “apartment style” amenities such as a swimming pool, on-site parking and 12,000 square feet of “support” areas such as a deli-market.

When would construction begin?
A: The plan is to begin construction in late 2003 or early 2004.

When would the apartments be ready?
A: The developer hopes to have some apartments ready as early as fall 2005. All are projected to be completed and occupied by fall 2006. A parking garage proposed as part of the project could be ready as early as the 2004-2005 academic year.

Who will get to live in the new student housing project?
A: Cal Poly students. However, if there is space available, students from Cuesta College could be housed there.

How many parking places will be added as part of the Capstone project?
A: Approximately 2,000 parking spaces will be included in the project in a mix of structured and surface parking.

What will it cost to rent the apartments?
A: Rent is projected to be competitive with the other apartment-style units on and off campus.

What environmental impacts would the student housing project have on Cal Poly lands?
A: The location of the proposed project is consistent with the university’s master plan, and has already been identified in the master plan approved by California State University trustees as a site for future student housing. As part of the proposed student housing project, existing agricultural facilities and operations will move farther away from the Poly Canyon watershed.

How will the University use the newly acquired agriculture land in Edna Valley?
A: The land will be used by the College of Agriculture as a supplemental resource for some equestrian programs and Horticulture and Crop Science Department programs. The land will remain in agricultural use, providing Cal Poly students and faculty the opportunity to work and learn in a mature premium wine-grape vineyard. The Edna Ranch vineyards would be the third and newest Cal Poly vineyard.

Will Cal Poly hold classes on the Edna Ranch land?
A: Cal Poly students in crop science and viticulture classes may attend some class sessions on the property, most likely in the vineyards. The equestrian facility will be used by a limited number of Cal Poly students under university supervision. Cal Poly students have been actively involved in cattle management programs on the ranch.

Will Cal Poly activities generate more traffic in the Edna Ranch area?
A: The use of the Edna Ranch facilities by students would be limited. The agricultural land on the main Cal Poly campus is the primary focus for the university’s agricultural programs, operations and classes. A small number of students, supervised by faculty, can be expected to periodically visit the Edna Ranch facilities.

Who is Capstone?
A: Capstone Development Corporation is a developer and operator of student housing on and near campuses across the United States. Capstone West, the division of Capstone that presented this proposal, is headquartered in San Diego. Capstone will take on the risk in developing and building the complex housing and parking.

Why does Cal Poly want to partner with Capstone to build student housing?
A: This project includes the transfer of more than 1,200 acres of replacement agricultural land to the university, allowing Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture to enhance both its Horticulture and Crop Science programs and equestrian offerings. The project also allows Cal Poly to establish standards for construction and furnishings for the student housing complex, and to monitor and approve (or change) the progress and quality of the student housing complex, while protecting Cal Poly from development and construction risks and costs. The per-bed and per-square-foot cost of the student housing project proposed by Capstone is less than the per-bed and per-square-foot cost of the new 800-bed complex financed by state university dormitory revenue.

How does Cal Poly’s on-campus student housing compare to student housing at the other 22 universities in the California State University System?
A: If the Capstone proposal is approved, Cal Poly will have 6,280 beds by 2006 – more than twice as much on-campus student housing as any university in the CSU system.

Cal Poly and San Diego State University currently offer the largest amount of on-campus housing in the CSU system. At the projected fall 2003 opening of the 800-bed student housing project currently under construction, Cal Poly will have a total of 3,583 beds and San Diego State University will have 3,600 beds. However, the San Diego State number will drop to 3000 in 2004.

San Jose State University is the second largest provider of on-campus student housing with 1,800 beds. SJSU is expected to add housing accommodating up to 3,600 beds on campus in coming years.

CSU Monterey Bay currently has 2,050 campus student housing beds, and will increase that number to 2,818 during the next three years.

CSU Long Beach currently has 1,962 on-campus student housing beds.

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