[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or over two years AMCAL has been working on a project to bring more student housing to Arcata by proposing a 600-bed facility at the old “Craftsman Mall” site on St. Louis Road.
Tomorrow, the Arcata City Council will hear the proposal from the Los Angeles based developer. The community will also have an opportunity to share their support, or opposition, the following day June 7th.
The company has also entered into agreements with Humboldt State University that would allow HSU to manage the site and the housing would only be available to students.
The development would make housing overall more accessible to HSU students who for years have complained about the lack of housing, discrimination and the requirements of co-signers and credit checks as barriers in obtaining housing locally.
“We don’t require cosigners. Anyone with a HSU I.D would be able to get in,” said Stephen Clarke, Senior Director of Market Rate & Student Housing for AMCAL.
This proposed project has created quite a stir in the community and prompted the creation of ‘Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing,’ who have submitted an alternative housing model which they say will be more inclusive of students and community members.
“We are very pro-housing and very pro-development. We really believe there needs to be more housing we just don’t think this is the right approach,” John Bergenske relayed.
Bergenske is the Chief Financial Officer and Association Technical Advisor for ACRH and worries that isolating students in a managed facility rather than a blended situation side by side with existing citizens, will hinder inclusiveness and understanding.
“It is healthier for non-students and students to benefit from interactions as citizens in communities.”
Bergenske said that ACRH worries about the prices of rent increasing locally as an effect of the housing project as well as wage and tax breaks. According to Bergenske, AMCAL is estimated to bypass over $300,000 in property taxes a year based off certain agreements and proposals with HSU of site management and eventual ownership changes.
“AMCAL as an outside company does not care about the community all they care about is if they have a bond and affiliation agreement.”
ACRH has been approached with offers of developing their site if AMCAL isn’t approved by the city council.
Clarke expressed that many developers shy away from California because of regulations but AMCAL has over 40-years experience and has developed student housing sites at eight other CSU’s–including Monterey Bay, Stanislaus, Sacramento and Chico.
The company understands that CSU campuses can only house 10% of students so every campus has a need for more student housing. The ‘student-first’ model would also save students the headache of subletting during summer and winter breaks.
“You don’t have to pay for a whole year for the folks that go home. You can leave your stuff there and you don’t have to pay for the time that you are not there.”