By 2018, Cal Poly will have a new residence hall built where the Grand Avenue parking lot currently resides.
The five-building freshman housing project Cal Poly recently approved has many proposed amenities: classrooms, a welcome center, community lounges, recreational space and a dining facility.
And when it comes to the question of how to address replacing the parking lot the housing complex will be built on, Cal Poly plans to build a 300- to 500-space parking structure. But there are still challenges that come with building the structure.
One concern is where it will be built.
According to the new housing Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the structure would be on the same plot of land as the housing units — on the parking lots near Cal Poly’s Grand Avenue entrance. Where it would be placed on this plot of land is a topic of conversation among residents in the neighborhoods next to the proposed residence halls.
Several residents expressed they wanted a buffer between their neighborhoods and the housing units. They opted to change the plan’s design to move the structure between the neighborhoods and housing to make a barrier. But Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said there were better ways to provide a barrier.
“We do have a nice green buffer planned of landscapes, terrain, even fences, so that students have to follow the sidewalks and go the normal pathways,” he said.
According to Humphrey, however, the parking structure will not be built between the neighborhoods and housing units. Instead, it will be built on the northwest corner of the site, closer to the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC).
The reason for this decision was the geography of the area.
“We looked at putting it in other places, including looking at putting it in as a buffer between housing and the edge of campus,” Humphrey said. “But there were some reasons about the condition of the site that required the parking garage to go where it is.”
Another detail dealt with who would be allowed to park in the structure.
Humphrey said the structure will be for general parking, but those general parking spaces could transform into residential or faculty parking later on.
“We have the ability, through management controls, to change what the purpose of a lot is based on how our community is consuming that space,” he said.
Humphrey also discussed where students would park during construction.
Many freshmen use the Grand Avenue entrance lot to park their cars. The general public is allowed to park there as well. Cal Poly’s facilities planning department is considering alternative parking where students and others who use the Grand Avenue lot can park during construction, Humphrey said.
Humphrey also said though the housing project and parking structure are planned out in the EIR, details could change along the way.
“It’s really important to know that what we are showing the community on paper and in pictures and diagrams is not the final,” he said. “It’s close to where buildings will sit, but things can change.”
The housing project was first proposed in May 2013. When the announcement was made, some local residents were upset about the plans. Some expressed their opinions at the two public forums in November and December.
Despite the local uproar, the university approved the project and announced the news to Cal Poly students via email Jan. 15.
Now, Facilities Planning and Capital Projects is working on amending the project’s second EIR to include analysis of alternative construction sites. There will then be a 45-day comment period on the EIR before the final project plans go before the California State University Board of Trustees for approval. Humphrey anticipates it will go before them late this spring. If the plan is approved, the next step will be to begin construction in December 2015 and end Fall 2018.
The project, including both the housing units and parking structure, has a $200 million budget.
Aja Frost contributed to this report