This autumn, Napa Valley College plans to start work on the first student housing development on its main campus in its 57-year history.

Directors at the two-year community college have laid out a schedule for building a mix of dormitory-style and apartment dwellings for more than 500 students, which would occupy the north end of NVC’s campus off Highway 221 in south Napa. Completion is planned in time for the first students to move in before the fall 2023 semester.

Approved for design in January 2020 and estimated to cost $83.3 million, the development will place NVC in a group of about a dozen California community colleges with on-site housing, an amenity that college leaders have said will become an important tool to attract students or turn part-time students into full-timers, even as Napa County’s rising housing costs continue to put pressure on those seeking to study or work locally.

“I hope now that we’ve lowered another barrier for them, that housing is not a barrier they have to deal with,” NVC superintendent Ron Kraft said last week in an interview with the Napa Valley Register.

Various housing proposals have been pondered by college officials for more than a decade, but support for an on-campus development has gained steam among NVC leadership amid a Napa County housing shortage that has shown no sign of abating. Officials in 2017 estimated about one-third of the student body was “housing insecure,” lacking a fixed address and forced to frequently move or couch-surf.

Plans shared by the college during a Feb. 2 presentation to students call for a residential block comprising three four-story buildings on the northeast corner of the roundabout at the west end of Magnolia Drive, the main entryway into campus from Highway 221.

Two of the buildings – one a residence hall with single- and double-occupancy rooms, the other a collection of furnished apartments with up to four bedrooms each – would contain a combined 412 beds. The third building will contain 90 unfurnished apartments and is designed mainly for older students with families and dependents, according to Bob Parker, NVC’s assistant superintendent for administrative services.

Counting relatives of students, the complex will have a capacity of some 600 residents, Parker said Wednesday.

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