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Housing Construction Boom Transforms San Diego State

One new apartment building, and one under construction on Lindo Paseo, are an example of the increase in rental housing, aimed at San Diego State students.
Tom Fudge
One new apartment building, and one under construction on Lindo Paseo, are an example of the increase in rental housing, aimed at San Diego State students.

One Monday afternoon, construction workers were firing nails into the framework of what will be another new apartment building on the south edge of San Diego State. Between these new units and many others near Alvarado Hospital, there's been a boom in University-area housing.

Housing Construction Boom Transforms San Diego State
Demand for student housing and construction of apartment buildings is turning San Diego State into a true campus community.

"It's probably right around 2,000 beds that have either been recently delivered or will be very soon," said San Diego State architect Bob Schulz, who describes housing in terms of numbers of "beds" rather than apartment units.

A flurry of construction around the San Diego State campus seems to be transforming the long-time commuter campus into a very different campus community: One in which students live within walking distance of campus and find shopping and services they need nearby.

Schulz points out the university had no hand in planning or building the housing that's recently gone up. It's just the private sector responding to demand.

The San Diego State housing boom is driven by several trends and factors. One is a university master plan that aims to increase the student body to 35,000. There is also a growing number of students who aren't from San Diego, and a general desire to make SDSU less of a commuter campus.

Investment in housing, aimed at students, is happening all over the country. At the University of San Diego, 533 units are now being built on Linda Vista Road.

Following the collapse of single-family home prices, builders looked more and more to attached rental housing as their most valuable product.

Housing consultant Gary London conducted feasibility studies on some of the housing developments around San Diego State. He said off-campus student housing is actually a safe and stable investment when more than one student share an apartment.

"Typically, there are at least two incomes supporting the lease," said London. "So if one income fails, the other can pick up the financial burden."

The desire to make SDSU a more residential campus has also spurred a planned commercial development, called Plaza Linda Verde. The development's first phase, expected to begin construction in 2015, should have 45,000 square feet of retail space, a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and housing for 600 more people.

"Instead of complaining about the neighborhood that we're in, and we don't have food service and groceries and other things for our students," said Schulz, "let's build the neighborhood we want to live in."

A second phase of the Plaza Linda Verde development would double its size. The development is expected to straddle College Avenue at the corner of Lindo Paseo.

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