Kristen Marschall

It’s been a long road for the Cal Poly Housing Corporation (CPHC) to make the Bella Montana homes come to life. The homes, intended for faculty and staff, are finally being applied for and are receiving a strong reaction – both positive and negative.

Though they are currently being built, Bella Montana will be complete with 69 condominiums, consisting of triplexes or fourplexes, by October 2007. The construction will be done in three phases and seven buildings comprising 21 homes should be available for occupancy in December, followed by five more buildings of 18 homes in June 2007 and nine buildings of 30 homes will be ready for October 2007.

“We’re doing well on timing,” said Jim Reinhart, the CPHC managing director. “The project is generally on schedule, although the rain in March delayed the pouring of the foundations for Phase III.”

The corporation was formed in 2001 not only to assume responsibility for developing and operating university housing for students, but also to implement housing for faculty and staff.

Because the pay grade is consistent throughout the entire California State University system for faculty, Reinhart said it is difficult for the university to draw potential faculty members when the housing is more expensive in San Luis Obispo than other areas.

“Faculty at Fresno State may have similar incomes as Cal Poly faculty, however, housing is more expensive here,” he said. “For faculty in the early phase of their careers, home affordability is more of a challenge.”

Bella Montana, located on the corner of Highland Drive and Santa Rosa Street, sits on a piece of property known as “H-8.” Reinhart said it is a terrific location for faculty and staff to walk or bike to the university.

The community will include three streets, four trash enclosures, a mailbox center, a landscaped area and a bus stop. All units include garages and 70 additional parking spaces will be available. The first 39 Phase I and II homes range from $323,000 to $396,000 and prices for the 30 Phase III homes will be released in 2007.

Though the homes are open to applicants including current faculty, staff, coaches and management, Reinhart said the top priority is new faculty.

“The university is hiring approximately 50 new faculty (members) for the next academic year, and we have allocated 21 homes for them,” he said, adding that there are approximately 160 people on an interest list for the homes.

The CPHC created a chart ranking the priority of the applicants into categories, and while new faculty recruits rank No. 1, “primary retention” faculty rank No. 2, followed by other Cal Poly employees and employees with property in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

However, the homes are only available for the current faculty members who were employed after July 1, 2001. Also, if a faculty or staff member were to purchase a Bella Montana home and undergo a change in employment with the university, it could be required for them to sell the home.

“If they’ve been here prior to 2001, there is a greater likelihood that they have a home as the affordability gap was smaller then,” Reinhart said. “If they’ve been at Cal Poly for six or seven years, chances are they’re settled.”

If prospective and current Cal Poly employees do not fill the condominiums, the CPHC will then turn to its back-up market which consists of public education institution employees or public agency employees within SLO County, other CSU employees or the general public. However, Reinhart said, “We really don’t want these homes going to the general public.”

The first application date was April 20 for current faculty and staff, which Reinhart said 62 applications were received for only 18 homes. A due date on May 11 will follow solely for prospective faculty and four more application dates are lined up throughout the next year.

Reinhart hosted an information session and site tour for prospective buyers on April 29.

For more information, visit the Bella Montana Web site at

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