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SF State to break ground on new student housing, high-tech media center in fall

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San Francisco State University expects to break ground on a student housing project this fall. (Examiner file photo)

New housing slated to rise at San Francisco State University over the next two years could cost students between $1,225 and $1,505 for shared accommodations.

The university is readying two major construction projects blocks apart from each other — a new media arts center at Tapia Drive and Holloway Avenue and a mixed-use housing project that will bring upward of 550 beds to Varela and Holloway avenues. Both projects are slated to break ground this fall.

The number of residential units that will come with the project is still in flux, but a survey released by the university this week to gauge how much students were willing to pay for the new accommodation offered three initial floor plans for fully furnished apartments housing up to four residents.

The cheapest option currently proposed would be a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment, shared among four students for $1,225 per bed, utilities included. The survey also included a rendering of a shared one-bedroom furnished apartment and inquired whether students would be willing to to pay $1,505 per bed.

Privacy would cost prospective residents about $100 more — a third floor plan proposes a furnished apartment with four modest but separate bedrooms, a full kitchen and living space, at a cost of $1,598 per room.

“People will be able to look at what’s offered and make their decision,” said Jason Porth, vice president of University Enterprises at SFSU, adding that given “what’s affordable off campus, we do think the price points are reasonable.”

The apartments will be equipped with a kitchenette or full kitchen, and meal plans would be optional.

According to the internet listing service RentCafe, a studio apartment in San Francisco cost $2,500 in April, while a one-bedroom rented at an average of $3,239 and a two-bedroom at $4,351 per month.

The proposed housing will sit on top of 33,000 square-feet of retail space and student support services and come with a 50-car parking garage. Its construction requires the demolition of 27 housing units that are currently serving some 53 students. Their annual leases end in May and will not be renewed.

Developer Pacific Union Development Company is funding the housing project’s construction, and is leasing the property from the university for the next 65 years. The private-public partnership has enabled the university to address an immediate and urgent need for housing, according to Porth.

“We have a wait list well over 2,000 students wanting to live on campus — we need to house them,” Porth said. Students are expected to move into the new apartments in Fall 2020.

Slated to rise simultaneously with the housing project is a long-awaited, state-of-the-art Center for Media Arts, which will come with an adjacent 800-seat auditorium at the intersection of Holloway Avenue and Font Boulevard.

The four-story, 76,000 square-foot building will absorb the school’s Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts program, which currently operates inside of SFSU’s aging College of Liberal and Creative Arts Department building.

That department’s administrative offices, as well as interdisciplinary lecture and active learning classrooms, two full-height television studios, a television newsroom, a radio station and production spaces, will also find a home in the new center.

Some 27 townhomes in the adjacent Park Merced neighborhood will also be torn down to make room for the $81 million project. Demolition is expected to begin in June, and construction is set for the Fall.

While a majority of the townhome residents are students, seven units were occupied by SFSU faculty, staff and Park Merced legacy tenants, all of whom have been relocated into university-owned housing at their same rents, according to Porth.

Current staff in Creative Arts building expressed both excitement and skepticism about the timeline governing the new center’s construction, which is slated to open its doors in 2020.

“I came here in 2006 and was told by 2012 there would be a new Creative Arts building,” said Jeff Jacoby, an associate professor in the BECA program, adding that funding intended to build the media center was redirected to the construction of the Mashouf Wellness Center instead. “When I see the dirt moved, I will feel a lot better.”

Porth said that efforts are underway to raise some $17-20 million still needed to pay for state-of-art equipment to outfit the media center, which will be constructed using some $64 million in state funding.

The sister projects were approved by the California State University Board of Trustees last summer and are part of SFSU’s Campus Master Plan, which was adopted in 2007 and envisions a 25 percent increase in full-time student enrollment by 2020 through facility enhancements.

That vision also includes growing SFSU’s current population of on-campus student residents from about 4,000 to 12,000 students, Porth said.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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