The welcome mat’s out for Berkeley students this fall
With no housing crunch to face, it’s the best year in memory for those seeking shelter


new dorm

The interior courtyard at the College Durant Apartments is one of several common areas residents will enjoy during the building's first year of operation — and for many years to come.
Steve McConnell photo

21 August 2002 | Officials say the now-deflated dotcom boom and overall economic downturn, along with the provision of new university and private housing, have combined to produce the best student housing outlook in years.

While stories of bidding wars over vacant apartments have been common the last few years, students searching at the last minute this fall have found some slots still open among the university’s approximately 5,300 beds. There is also a host of “for rent” signs posted for private apartments and homes.

On Sunday, the first new campus housing since 1994 opened its doors to 120 graduate students and upper-division undergrads. Located a block from campus at the intersection of College Avenue and Durant Street, the building has 30 apartments, each with two to six private bedrooms, a common kitchen and living room, and Mission-style furnishings. Residents of College Durant Apart-ments share communal study rooms and lounges, a landscaped outdoor courtyard, and a bicycle storage area. A signature architectural detail — two sets of long white stripes, resembling bear claws —frames the main entrance.

“There is no housing crunch this year,” said Michelle Kniffen, assistant director of assignments for university housing.

“This is the best I’ve ever seen it, and I’m a Cal grad from the Class of ’80,” said Becky White, assistant director of Faculty and Community Housing, which operates Cal Rentals, the counseling and rental referral office for students.

“Part of it’s a little dreary because of the connections to September 11 and the economy,” she says. “But it’s definitely to the students’ benefit.”

Last August, Cal Rentals staff logged 60 to 80 new rental ads each day, reaching as many as 100 on particularly busy days. This year the office is busy fielding an average of 120 to 150 calls every day, with about 60 percent of the listings found in Berkeley, White said.

Harry LeGrande, assistant vice chancellor for Residential and Student Service Programs, said university housing remains a much-sought-after commodity, with the university committed to helping provide rooms for students in economic booms or busts.

The university is building three new residence halls and two apartment-style complexes in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood, offering safe and affordable student housing within walking distance to campus.

In addition, the university is building a central dining commons (Crossroads) and four-story student-services office center on the east side of Bowditch Street, between Haste Street and Channing Way, that will serve as the main location for student food services for students living at residence-hallsUnits I and II.

Scheduled to open in late January 2003, the center — designed to remain operational in the event of a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault — will replace two separate dining halls deemed seismically vulnerable. Meanwhile, the dining hall that remains open will feature a “Deconstruction Diner” construction theme and a “grab and go market” that will stay open until midnight.

Boundaries for the current and projected Southside construction (estimated to cost $203 million) are Channing, Bowditch, Haste, and College Avenue. The cost of new construction, as well as its accompanying debt service, must be borne by the self-supporting Residential and Student Service Programs.

Reflecting a 6.9-percent increase over last year, this year’s prices for university housing range from $520 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the older section of University Village family housing in Albany to $1,411 per month for an 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom/two-bath unit in the Village’s newer east section.

Residence-hall prices range from $8,495 per academic year for a bed in a triple-occupancy room, with a 14-meals-a-week dining plan, to $12,130 per academic year for a single room in a residence hall suite, also with a 14-meal plan.

Rooms in the new College Durant Apartments cost between $750 a month and $950 a month, with no meal-plan provision.


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Copyright 2002, The Regents of the University of California.
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