Western Nevada College plans to add a student dormitory to its Carson City campus in time for the 2018 school year.
The immediate issue is a tight rental market in Carson City.
“Students are saying they’re having trouble finding housing and asked if the college can do anything about it,” said Chet Burton, WNC president, after a breakfast meeting held by Northern Nevada Development Authority Wednesday at the Carson Nugget.
But the problem goes deeper than that and is as important to WNC as it is to its students.
Burton said students choose colleges with dorms because parents prefer their children live on campus rather than on their own in town.
“We’re losing (potential) students,” said Burton.
WNC plans to work with a private developer who would lease land on the 200-acre campus, build the dorm and then operate it for the next 25 to 30 years, said Burton.
“It won’t cost the college a penny,” he said.
Burton said an example of such a private-public partnership is Ponderosa Village, a complex of one and two bedroom apartments for graduate students and faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.
WNC has commissioned a comprehensive feasibility study and expects to get the results in August.
The study is looking at the local market, pricing and other considerations.
Burton said so far results show demand is greater than the college anticipated.
“We were initially thinking 150 beds, but it’s looking more like 200 to 250,” he said.
The college has three or four sites on campus that could accommodate the dorm, but it would be up to a developer to decide where to build with the goal, said Burton, of picking a spot where housing can be expanded in the future.
Burton said after receiving the feasibility study the school will put together a request for a proposal and go to the Board of Regents for permission to post it.
The RFP, issued early next year, would be a request for bids from developers who would build and operate the dorm.
“I’ve been told its a 16 to 18 month process and the goal is to have it for the fall of 2018, ready for students to move in in August,” he said.