Skip to main content

Student Family Housing Redevelopment

Project Update from the Vice Provost and Dean - 
October 13, 2016

The final report of the Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee was submitted to Vice Provost and Dean Gibeling and Vice Chancellor de la Torre on June 9, 2015. The committee presented the recommendations of the Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee to Chancellor Katehi on September 30, 2015. The final report highlighted the value of student family housing to the campus, identified the key requirements to meeting the needs of the students and identified goals of affordability and discussed possible strategies to meet those goals. Read the full status update letter.

A New Approach to Redeveloping Student Family Housing

Information about planning for redevelopment of Orchard and Solano Parks will be updated to the entire community on this webpage. We urge our community to stay informed and to contribute feedback. 

June 2014 - Letter To Graduate and Professional Students from Dean Gibeling

Additional details regarding the previous plan and consultation progress are available on the Student Housing website.

Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee Members & Charge

The Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee reviewed model family housing facilities and funding models and made recommendations for the future redevelopment of Orchard and Solano Parks to best meet the needs of students with families. The priority goals of the committee were to refocus on the needs of affected students, to reevaluate the situation as it stood, and to develop a new and more inclusive strategy for planning and consultation moving forward. The work of the committee was led and supported by staff from Graduate Studies and Student Affairs. See the list of committee members and read the charge letter to the committee.

  • Carlos Colman Meixner, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Marilyn Derby, Graduate Studies (Project Manager)
  • Brittany Derieg, Student Affairs (Project Assistant)
  • Aaron Fackler, Transportation Technology and Policy
  • Assistant Vice Chancellor Clayton Halliday, Design and Construction Management
  • Angel Hinzo, Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean of Graduate Studies and to the Chancellor
  • Paul Johnson, Political Science
  • Professor Deb Niemeier, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chair, Committee on Planning and Budget
  • Sara Petrosillo, English
  • Gordon Rees, Soils & Biogeochemistry
  • Ryan Reynolds, Mathematics
  • Professor Michael Rios, Human Ecology
  • Cutcha Risling Baldy, Native American Studies
  • Associate Dean for Graduate Students Lenora Timm, Graduate Studies (Chair)
  • Erica Vonasek, Biological Systems Engineering, Vice Chair Graduate Student Association

SUBJECT: Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee — Charge

Dear Colleagues:

Orchard and Solano Parks provide apartment-style housing for student families and graduate students at UC Davis. Both were opened in the early 1960’s and are operated by Student Housing. Orchard Park provides 200 two-bedroom apartments and Solano Park offers 108 one-bedroom and 168 two-bedroom apartments.

Due to increasing maintenance costs and expectations of significant costs to renew major utilities and amenities, a decision was made in 2009 to plan for the redevelopment of both Orchard and Solano Parks. That plan involved closing Orchard Park in July, 2014 and redeveloping the site for family and graduate student housing to open in Fall, 2016. Solano Park would then close in Fall 2016, but no specific plans were outlined for its redevelopment. At the same time, Student Housing developed plans for the replacement of the former Castilian housing, located just off campus. That project, now called 8th and Wake will open in Fall 2014, and will cater to single graduate students, who make up over half of the graduate student population.

Planning for Orchard Park's redevelopment was undertaken over the past two years by a committee that included two graduate student representatives. On March 13th and 15th of this year, results of the planning process were presented to the community at two information sessions. Information was shared at the meetings regarding the proposed building configuration at the current Orchard Park site, types and sizes of units, project amenities and proposed rents. Information was also provided regarding a rent subsidy program for financially needy student families and single graduate students. It was through feedback from the information sessions and additional email from the community that specific concerns with the redevelopment process surfaced. As a result of those concerns, a decision was made by Chancellor Katehi to stop the current redevelopment plans and embark on a new planning approach that focuses on those concerns as much as possible and reevaluates how best to proceed.

We are writing to ask that you serve on a new group to take a fresh and comprehensive look at our planning for the redevelopment of student family housing at UC Davis. Within this context, redevelopment may mean either renovation or reconstruction. The purpose of this group is to make recommendations for the future redevelopment of Orchard and Solano Parks to best meet the needs of students with families.

We believe that student family housing is an important amenity that helps UC Davis attract and retain a broadly diverse student population. Within this context, the Committee is charged as follows:

  • We ask that you begin your work by developing broad principles that will guide our thinking about student family housing with specific emphasis on the redevelopment of Orchard Park. These principles should articulate the purpose and value of having student family housing on campus, identify the housing environment that will best meet the needs of student families, identify goals for affordability and develop strategies to meet these goals.
  • These principles should be based on broad consultation with students, especially graduate students with families. Consultation should involve multiple methods, including open forums, surveys, focus groups, and a website on which relevant materials are made available and individual meetings with student groups.
  • The Committee should identify model housing facilities and funding models at other institutions that embody the principles that the group has articulated and that meet the expressed needs of our students with families.
  • The Committee should also offer several scenarios for the redevelopment of Orchard Park ((redevelopment of Solano Park will be considered at a later time) consistent with the principles it develops and information gathered from similar projects.

We request that the Committee begin meeting in Summer, 2014 and submit a final report and recommendations to us by no later than December 31, 2014. It is our expectation that this report will inform the more specific planning process to be undertaken by a new Project Advisory Committee beginning in January, 2015.

Thank you for your willingness to serve in this capacity. We are confident that the Committee recommendations will provide a much needed strategic framework for addressing student family housing needs at UC Davis. Staff will contact you shortly to schedule the first meeting of the Committee. You need not respond to this letter unless you are unable to serve.

Thank you,

Jeffery C. Gibeling, Vice Provost – Graduate Education and Dean – Graduate Studies

Adela de la Torre, Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs

Committee Recommendations

Solano Park residents participate in a workshop while children play with sand.The Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee Report is complete. It includes an explanation of the issues and implications for students, faculty, Student Housing, and UC Davis. The issues and committee recommendations are grouped into three main focus areas:

  • Affordability – Includes issues that impact construction costs, rental rates, and students’ ability to afford the apartments.
  • Facility Design – Includes apartment size and design, housing density (units per acre) and shared indoor and outdoor public spaces (e.g., the community center, green space, and playgrounds).
  • Quality of Life – Includes issues that affect the residents’ quality of life, such as community support programs, policies, and procedures that contribute positively to a sense of community and belonging for students and their families. 

Updates Since the Completion of the Committee's Report

  • September 2015 Meeting with Chancellor Katehi and Senior Administrators
  • On September 30th, members of the Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee met with Chancellor Katehi and a group of senior administrators including Adela de la Torre, Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs and Jeffery C. Gibeling, Vice Provost – Graduate Education and Dean – Graduate Studies. We had the opportunity to present our recommendations and summarize the supporting rationale. 
  • March 2016 Orchard Park Redevelopment Status Report
  • Following meetings with committee members, Chancellor Katehi and other senior administrators discussed the recommendations and decided how to proceed with the redevelopment of student family housing (Orchard Park Redevelopment Status Report). They have adopted most of the committee's recommendations and included plans to address the concerns regarding a public-private development partnership. 

    1. The University commits to redeveloping Orchard Park in a manner that provides the greatest level of affordability possible, with the goal of limiting future rent increases above the current level to the rate of increase of TA and GSR salaries. 

    2. Recognizing the enormous capital needs of the campus for classrooms, laboratories, student housing and support buildings, coupled with the limited debt-carrying capacity, a public-private partnership is the best model for Orchard Park redevelopment. This partnership will strive to create the maximum number of new family housing units consistent with other objectives (e.g. maintaining an environment that creates community and provides open space). In addition to family housing, at-market housing will be developed on the periphery of the property in order to support affordability. The agreement with the private partner will include rent increase limits with additional controls to avoid maximum increases when not warranted. 

    3. Responding to student concerns about a private developer, Student Housing will be assigned the responsibility to serve as the liaison between student lease holders and the property owner. Student Housing will work to maintain certain key features of the Parks that are essential to ensuring that residents feel that they are part of the University, in particular providing regular programming for the community and campus internet connections. 

    4. The Vice Provost-Graduate Education and Dean – Graduate Studies and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs will appoint a Solano Park Community Advisory Board to work with Student Housing leadership and Solano Park management to inform on-going operations and needs of residents as well as to develop a model for the future Orchard Park Community Advisory Board. In connection with this effort, non-student partners of student lease holders will be provided the opportunity to sign up to receive electronic communications from Solano Park management. 

    5. The University commits to maintaining Solano Park in good operating order until the new Orchard Park is available. However, major system replacement (e.g. re-roofing) will not be undertaken in anticipation of the end of the useful life of Solano Park. Rents will increase only at a rate equivalent to the annual increase in TA and GSR salaries, whichever is lower. 

    6. An architect will be hired to develop the conceptual design and Project Planning Guide for Orchard Park Redevelopment. This architect will work with the community in multiple interactive sessions as the design develops. 

    7. The University will use existing housing reserves for the demolition of the current Orchard Park in order to keep project costs down and the project on schedule. 

    8. A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) with significant student representation will be appointed to work with the architect and Design and Construction Management. The PAC will be separate from the Solano Park Community Advisory Board. 

    9. The University will create and implement a Parks Alumni Fundraising Campaign and has developed a proposal for a Big Idea under the upcoming comprehensive campaign. Funds raised will be used to maintain affordability and provide community amenities identified by the future Orchard Park Community Advisory Board. 

    10. A concrete timeline for the entire Orchard Park redevelopment process will be created by April 30, 2016. 

    See the complete Status Report.


  • Is Solano Park going to close in 2016? 
  • No. All preparations for Solano Park's closure were stopped in 2014 and any future closure date is unknown at this time. 
  • Will the rents be raised? If so, when? 
  • There will be no increases in rent for the 2016-17 lease period. 
  • Why are we considering building new apartments in Orchard and Solano Parks rather than just repairing the existing buildings? 
  • After conducting an in-house review of the facilities and then contracting with an outside consultant to perform a facility condition assessment it was determined that the investment for renovation was too costly. The difference between a significant renovation project and building new was minimal. Therefore, new construction was the preferred course of action. Additionally, the consultant reported that a significant renovation project would only yield 15-25 years of useful life while a newly constructed property would have an expected life of 50-60 years. For more information on the condition of Orchard Park, please see 2014 Orchard Park Condition Assessment Report. You may also be interested in the information below provided by Peter Menard-Warwick​ and Doug Van Winkle​, Orchard and Solano Park maintenance staff: 
    Plumbing - Drain lines both in the buildings and underground are difficult to access. Old tub/shower fixtures are set behind old tile. Leaks occur in the copper supply-lines in the walls and ceilings. The shut-off valves controlling water flow to the buildings are old and in-ground. Hot water systems are poorly designed and sited. Most troublesome are the drain pipes, especially for sewer. They are situated under the concrete slab foundations of the buildings. For many years Student Housing has conducted a semi-annual preventive maintenance program for the drain lines, in which all the pipes are snaked to remove roots and obstructions. Unfortunately, due to age, the pipes are degraded past the point of repair and maintenance. The occasional sewage backs-ups and floods into the ground-floor apartments are not pleasant for the residents and very costly. To replace the underground sewer and drain plumbing would require vacating the buildings, cutting through the concrete floors and excavating the old pipes, then installing new ones. One unit is permanently offline because of a sewage flood that occurred when it was vacant. To rehabilitate that unit to Environmental Health & Safety requirements (to make it habitable again), is costly. Additionally, the copper water supply lines have outlived their life expectancy and we experience a growing number of related leaks each year. Finally, replacement parts for plumbing fixtures are becoming difficult to procure as they become obsolete.
    Windows and Doors – The aluminum windows and sliding door units are old and have single-pane glass and failing hardware. The single-pane glass means that they are not thermally efficient, requiring more energy to heat/cool the units resulting in greater energy costs. The sliding screen doors are difficult to repair/replace. The worn out interior bi-pass sliding closet doors require a lot of maintenance.  
    Exterior Stairs/Balconies/Handrails – These have required extensive and expensive maintenance over time and are again becoming unsafe in some areas. One apartment is permanently offline due to this. The wood-frame stairways, walkways, and hand rails are continually developing dry rot as they age past their life expectancy, requiring continual replacement.
    Roofs/Gutters/Downspouts – Many parts of these systems need repair or replacement. Wind-driven rain results in water intrusion into living spaces.
    Electrical – Interior circuits and safety features are outdated and undersized for current-time appliance and plug-in point use. Old exterior lighting is high maintenance in both time and cost.
  • Are there any other plans for the future of Solano Park?
  • The initial plans for Orchard Park called for enough housing units to replace Solano Park. When those plans were in place, there had been some consideration of closing Solano and using the land for other purposes, including new student housing. At present, there are two planning processes related to the area surrounding the Solano Park housing site: the Downtown/University/Gateway planning (which includes the Nishi property) and the campus Long Range Development Plan. Both processes are evaluating potential land use changes as part of the planning process. But no decisions have been made and the future of Orchard and Solano Parks will be informed by the recommendations of the committee.
  • Why is Orchard Park fenced? 
  • Orchard Park is fenced to reduce the likelihood of vandalism and other potential problems.
  • What was the purpose of this committee and to what end is this process leading?
  • The Student Family Housing Redevelopment Committee was charged with taking a fresh and comprehensive look at planning for the redevelopment of student family housing at UC Davis. The committee made recommendations for the future redevelopment of Orchard and Solano Parks. It focused on developing broad principles, policies, and practices to best meet the needs of students with families. 
  • What is the new Solano Park Advisory Board?
  • Student Housing created the Solano Park Advisory Board in May 2015 to discuss issues, concerns and policies related to living in Solano Park. Their goal is to stay in touch with the Solano Park community and look for new ways that Student Housing staff can partner with current residents to improve the experience of all students living in Solano Park. Solano residents who want to share opinions are encouraged to attend. If you have any questions about the board, please email Chuck Huneke, Student Housing Assistant Director, at

Contact Us

For questions or comments about the redevelopment process, please contact one of the individuals below.