Thursday, May 30, 2024

Crews breaks ground on the CSULB La Playa Hall housing development, part of larger campus master plan

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Future 49ers rejoice: The CSULB La Playa Hall development—a 424-bed residential complex being constructed near Parking Lot G4 just west of the College of Business—has officially broke ground, clearing the way for formal construction to begin in June of 2024, as first reported by CSULB on one of its latest campus updates.

So what is the CSULB La Playa Hall development?

Designed by Perkins&Wills, the three, five-story buildings will bring some 108,000 square feet of newly minted building space to the CSULB campus—and with it, create 424 beds across a mixture of single- and double-occupancy rooms. Each floor includes the essentials—restrooms, showers, lounges, study rooms—along with two satellite offices for the university’s Student Counseling and Psychological Services for increased mental health support for residents.

Joining those spaces will be a ground-level kitchen in each of the three buildings, three staff and faculty apartments, a 2,000-square-foot multipurpose room, and music-specific practice rooms.

The $115M project is partly funded though SB 183, which in part established the “Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program” that hopes to directly uptick the current stock of affordable student housing across the state’s three public higher education extensions: community colleges; the CSU system; and the UC system. CSULB was awarded $53M through that very bill—in part due to Rep. Robert Garcia’s efforts on The Hill—and the remainder will come from campus housing funds.

The campus will use a distributed-beds model for its affordable student housing that “will distribute the same number of newly built beds across all campus housing offerings—rather than providing a new building solely dedicated to affordable rate housing,” said Corry Colonna, executive director of Housing and Residential Life. “Not only will this help protect students from being identified by others as lower income, but this strategy also enables students of certain years to live together in the type of housing most suited for their experience.

“So only will these beds be more affordable, but it contributes mightily to our students’ success. Studies show students who stay on campus tend to have better grades, earn credits more quickly, and have an improved overall campus experience.” 

Construction will begin in June, and the building is scheduled to be finished and ready to house students by fall of 2026. 

How the CSULB La Playa Hall development fits into the university’s larger plan for the future

La Playa Hall is part of a much larger, grander scope of work that will definitively alter the environmental and social spaces of Cal State Long Beach—and since they are legally required to update their master plans within reason, and the last time CSULB updated theirs was in 2008 with a horizon line of 2020, the time has come to look at where the campus should be come 2035.

Beginning with an initial study in 2022 and an April 2023 update, the years of work eventually led to the formal draft EIR in September of 2023; that latter plan will be the guiding scope of where the university will plan renovation, redevelopment, and new construction once its is approved through the CEQA process.

The Master Plan is intended to “guide the physical campus development necessary to support the needs of the current student, faculty, and staff campus populations as well as projected student enrollment and campus population growth, which serves as the basis for determining long-term academic, administrative, student support, student housing, and athletic and recreational program space needs.”

When it comes to housing, CSULB knows it lacks: With average student populations averaging above 30,000 each year—making it one of the largest CSUs in the system—the university has 3,008 beds for incoming and existing students. The master plan calls for the creation of 1,602 additional beds.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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