Phase Two Underway for VDC
Construction has begun on the second phase of Vista del Campo which is scheduled to open on Aug. 31, 2006. The expanded VDC is expected to include 15 new buildings near the corner of Campus and Culver drives.
When VDC opened last fall, it offered furnished, single-bedroom accommodations for about 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The expansion will create space for an additional 1,564 students to live on campus.
Dennis McCauliff, director of housing operations for VDC, said that although construction has begun, not all plans for the new phase have been finished and that VDC administrators are ‘looking into all sorts of possibilities for community space.’
One such possibility is the inclusion of a convenience store or a cafe within VDC.
But according to McCauliff, the difficulty in deciding what to bring into the area is ‘finding things that are both good for residents and financially feasible.’
Unlike other on-campus housing communities, VDC is not managed by UCI but by an independent housing agency. Therefore, rent is determined by an agreement between the VDC management and the UCI administration. Rent at VDC is typically 10 percent higher than other on-campus housing options, but 10 percent lower than surrounding off-campus developments.
The general layout of each room will remain the same as in phase one developments. The biggest change will be in the size of buildings. Instead of having several smaller buildings, phase two will have fewer buildings, but they will be larger. The three largest buildings will house between 300 and 400 students. Like the first phase, phase two of VDC will also offer a separate graduate housing area.
VDC plans to increase the number of ASUCI shuttles that pick up and drop off students when the second phase is opened. Though there will not be enough room to accommodate one parking space for each resident, about 75 percent of residents will have parking, which will be the highest resident-to-parking ratio among on-campus housing communities.
Parking is an important issue among current VDC residents, who hope that the new development will better accommodate their needs.
‘After 11 p.m., it’s almost impossible to get a spot,’ said Grace Chiang, a second-year information and computer science major. ‘It sucks having to come back from work and not being able to find parking. They need to give us more options.’
Another complaint by many current VDC residents is that there are few visitor parking spaces available. Although the number of visitor parking spaces for the new development has not yet been determined, McCauliff said that VDC wants to make sure to provide enough parking spaces for residents, even if that means limiting the number of visitor parking spaces.
‘Residents have priority, even at the expense of visitor parking,’ McCauliff said.
Construction is not allowed past 7 p.m. but during daytime hours, construction will likely be a disturbance for residents of Arroyo Vista, though McCauliff said that VDC administrators are working to minimize the interference.
‘Any time you are building a property of that size, there is going to be noise or disruption,’ McCauliff said. ‘But we will make every attempt to communicate the major disruption issues ahead of time and minimize the interruptions. To say that there aren’t going to be any would be lying.’
Despite parking issues, McCauliff said that the demand for VDC housing will be high and there will likely be a waiting list for students wanting to get housing there, similar to what was experienced during the opening of phase one last year.
Students are happy to see that more on-campus housing is being provided.
Jairo Perez, a fourth-year biological sciences and psychology double major stated that the increase in housing ‘needs to be done because there are a lot of people who need affordable housing who can’t afford the rent in Irvine … which is unbelievably expensive.’
Though there are issues with parking and transportation, the opportunity to live close to school at a reasonable price is a benefit for students.
‘Instead of running around searching for apartments that are way more expensive, students will have the option of living nearby,’ said Ken Zhang, a fourth-year international studies major. ‘It’s going to be good in the long run.’