Long Beach State’s vision to create a “University Village” in Downtown Long Beach has been delayed, as planners are still deliberating details of the project.
“Initially when we were discussing this with the city, we’re hoping that we would open in fall of 2021,” said Simon Kim, associate vice president for research and sponsored programs at CSULB. “However, it’s going to be delayed for at least a year.”
According to Kim, construction is now set to begin in the fall of 2022.
Mayor Robert Garcia announced the CSULB expansion during his “Building a Better Long Beach” address in September 2019.
Long Beach Center, LLC., a development firm, purchased a plot of land, which stretches from Third Street to Sixth Street along Long Beach Boulevard, that will be used for its own housing project.
However, through negotiations with the city and the school, the developer agreed to set aside approximately 10,000-square-feet for the school to build 14 new classrooms and affordable housing.
“The first phase is the completion of classrooms,” President Jane Close Conoley said. “These will be used for continuing education and degree completion programs.”
Programs such as human resources research, emergency medical technician, event planning, cybercrime and cybersecurity certification will be taught in the new classrooms, which are expected to seat more than 200 students, according to Kim.
“We’ll have classroom space where nontraditional as well as traditional students can come and take classes,” Kim said.
Nontraditional students are those who do not fit the “typical” college student description, like those returning for a certification or pursuing a new career path, Kim said.
The project itself will cost a total of $2 million. Half of the cost will be funded by the city and the other half by the university.
“[The project will] give people the opportunity to live within the heart of the city,” Garcia said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Another promise from Garcia was affordable housing for staff and faculty, something Conoley said is still in its conceptual stage.
There is no current timeline for completion, according to Kim, due to extensive negotiations with the developer. Although the name “University Village” has not been confirmed as the official project’s name, Kim said what’s important is the result.
“It’s not an existing building, so they’re going to need some time to plan and go through the proper channels,” Kim said.
Across the classroom development on Fourth Street, the developer is building apartments. The university and the city are in discussion to reserve a certain amount of units as “affordable housing.” According to Kim, conversations surrounding the number of units have ranged from 750 to 1,000.
Plans for the dormitory project are still in infancy, according to Kim, but he hopes for completion by 2030.
“It’s not a dormitory where the university will occupy, but it’s going to be owned by the developer,” Kim said. “They’re going to set aside a certain number of rooms for our students, faculty and staff.”
Housing affordability continues to be a point of conversation in the city as rent prices continue to climb and income remains stagnant.
According to the U.S. Census, the median gross rent in the city of Long Beach in 2018 was $1,252, over $200 more than the national average. In comparison, the median household income for the city was $60,551 versus the national average of $60,293.
At this rate, the average citizen in Long Beach spends 25% of their annual income on rent alone. However, many fall below this income bracket, especially college students.
“What we’re negotiating right now is that students and faculty and staff will pay somewhat similar rent as what they would pay in any of our dormitory,” Kim said.
The current pricing for university dorms range from $8,994 for a single occupancy room to $6,994 for a triple occupancy room per academic year.
“Once we have a dormitory, having our students in downtown Long Beach will impact the economy in downtown as well as their social development,” Kim said.