Stanford University is moving ahead with a plan to construct a four-building residential complex for its graduate students, despite the fact that the new housing development would exceed the construction limits of the university's agreement with Santa Clara County.
If Stanford gets the county's permission to amend the 2000 agreement, known as the General Use Permit, the new housing would accommodate 2,400 "beds" (not housing units) and would be built in the Escondido Village area abutting Serra Street and Campus Drive, between Thoburn Court and Escondido Road. The university also announced in a statement Thursday that it also plans to eventually make intersection improvements at Campus and Serra.
In the statement, Stanford officials said that they finalized the project's site, height and density after several months of conferring with members of the graduate student community. David Lenox, campus architect, said that the administration "listened carefully to the feedback we received from throughout campus and changed the proposal in ways that benefit the project and should ease any concerns people have expressed."
"Given how desperately this housing is needed, we are ready to move forward and submit our proposals," Lenox said.
If things go as planned, the new housing would be constructed over three years and be available for occupancy by 2019. This assumes, though, that the county Board of Supervisors will agree to modify the 2000 agreement, which specified the amount of new construction Stanford can perform on unincorporated county land.
The agreement sets a cap of 2 million square feet of new academic uses (and academic support uses); 2,000 new beds in student housing; 350 new beds for postdoctoral scholars and medical residents; and 668 new beds for faculty and staff. The agreement also imposed a policy of "no net new commute trips," which triggered Stanford's aggressive "transportation demand management" program.
Now, Stanford is reaching the limit of its county cap. All but 581 of the allowed beds have been constructed, which means the county would have to approve the addition of 1,450 new housing beds to the permit before Escondido Village development can be built. The university indicated Thursday that it plans to pursue revisions to the permit this week.
While the document has helped to govern Stanford's expansion for the past 15 years, Stanford officials made a case earlier this year that the university's needs have changed over that time. Jean McCown, director of community relations at Stanford, said in a March statement that the university did its best to project in 2000 what would be "the appropriate allotment of housing for different campus groups."
"But that forecast 15 years ago has not met the need to accommodate more students on campus," McCown said.
The university had begun preliminary talks with county officials last year about modifying the housing allotment in the permit, McCown said at the time.
According to Stanford spokespeople Lisa Lapin and Kate Chesley, the new buildings will range from six to 10 stories in height, similar to existing buildings at Escondido Village. They will replace existing two-story buildings, which house about 400 students, for a net addition of about 2,000 people/beds. Stanford plans to relocate impacted students to other Stanford housing, either in another section of Escondido Village or in other locations inside and around the campus.
The new units will mostly house single graduate students or couples without children, according to the Stanford announcement. Initial plans also include premium studio apartments, two-bedroom apartments and "junior studios." The university is also considering amenities such as a cafe, exercise spaces, cinema, dance studio, study rooms and offices.
The proposed development at Escondido Village is one of several major residential projects that Stanford is moving ahead with. Construction is currently under way for two residential projects in Palo Alto, both of which would accommodate faculty: a 70-unit housing complex at El Camino Real and California Avenue, and a 180-home development on California Avenue, next to the College Terrace neighborhood.