Gone are the days when most of Centralia College’s student demographic either lived at home or were able to rent out a local homeowner’s spare room.
Nowadays, with housing in short supply and the cost of living on the rise, Centralia College has determined it needs to offer its own living accommodations for students who may otherwise be priced out of the area.
Starting in fall 2023, Centralia College will be able to house 110 students in new apartments currently being built on the corner of South Ash Street and Centralia College Boulevard.
Construction on the new facility only began earlier this month, but the project is the result of years of discussion between the Centralia College administration and members of the Centralia College Foundation.
“One of the things that has been identified over and over and over again for the last number of years is the need for reliable, secure student housing to help students achieve that college experience, but then also have a good place in a nice facility where they can live,” said Christine Fossett, executive director of the Centralia College Foundation.
The foundation primarily serves to help fund scholarships and capital projects, but after over a decade of discussing the possibility of building brand new student apartments with little movement on the project, “the Centralia College Foundation Board determined that we’re going to do this, even if we have to do it ourselves,” said Fossett.
The Centralia College Foundation conducted a $6 million capital campaign and purchased a lot on the corner of South Ash Street and Centralia College Boulevard. The land was ultimately sold to Collegiate Housing International (CHI), which will own and manage the apartments.
Centralia College reached out to CHI about the prospect of building and managing student apartments in Centralia after seeing CHI’s work on a similar project at Peninsula College in Port Angeles.
“After visiting with (the Centralia College Foundation), we said, ‘Yeah, we like the school, we’d be happy to do that,’” said Joel Crosby, managing member of CHI Centralia.
The Centralia College apartments will have a similar layout to the Peninsula College apartments, with the rooms divided into eight suites of four.
Each suite will contain a common living area and a fully-furnished kitchen connected to four private rooms. Each room houses two students and comes with its own bathroom and shower.
All rooms and suites will come fully furnished and equipped with high-speed WiFi.
“It’s a good living area for students and it’s fully operational. Everything is provided, all they have to do is show up with their suitcase and their backpack and their computer and they’re ready to go,” said Crosby.
Nationwide student housing trends show that the combination of the common area and the private rooms achieved with the suites is a “sweet spot for some communal living with some really good camaraderie going on but then also private space, and secure space,” said Fossett.
One extra room will be dedicated to a paid on-site student manager, whose job is similar to that of a resident assistant.
Rent is expected to be about $750 a month, including all utilities and internet, with a nine-month lease, according to Centralia College.
“The idea is to make it … affordable. We want to make it fun so it’s more than an apartment, so we have activities and things like that so it’s a fun place for them to live, and we make sure it’s safe,” said Crosby.
As of January, 100 student athletes and international students had already expressed interest in living in the new apartments.
“We’re excited about that. We work with coaches to provide housing and it enables them to recruit athletes they couldn’t otherwise get,” said Crosby, later adding, “It’s open to all students, not just athletes, but it enables coaches to recruit players that they couldn’t otherwise get.”
Crosby recalled meeting the mother of a Peninsula College student athlete who said the athlete chose Peninsula College over other schools because they liked the area and living situation on campus.
“We’re pretty confident we can do the same thing in Centralia,” he said.
Student athletes and international students are the primary residents of Centralia College’s existing student housing options, which includes the Silver Street Apartments and a handful of houses near campus.
The college will likely know within the next year or two whether the single apartment building CHI is building will be enough to handle Centralia College’s housing need or if the college will need to have CHI build a second complex, said Fossett.
“I think we’ll know in the next year whether that demand that we think we’re seeing is going to solidify,” she said.
Meanwhile, CHI has expressed interest in taking on more projects in the Centralia area.
“We’re really excited about Centralia. We like it,” said Crosby.
More information about CHI’s project at Peninsula College is available at http://www.chiportangeles.com/.