For some students, Highline College just got a bit closer to home.
The new student housing, Campus View at Highline College, was unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 13.
City leaders, college officials and employees, board members, students and other community members gathered to celebrate and tour the five story building — the first phase of the two-building Highline Place project.
The 160-bed housing is open to all students the college serves including international and domestic students, and students attending Kaplan or CWU-Des Moines.
“We see it as an opportunity for students to develop friendships, form study groups, and create a mini community of their own,” said Cris Taylor Tonasket, student housing and residence manager.
While Highline has historically been a commuter campus, students now have the option to live steps away from the northeast corner campus along Pacific Highway South.
Campus View boasts four floors of two- and four-bedroom units that share common kitchen and living areas along with one floor of commercial spaces and administrative offices for the college. The building also has a rooftop patio with vast views of Puget Sound, and an underground parking lot.
The project is owned and developed by Eastern Link Capital Management Group in business with Highline Place, LLC. Highline College and the Highline College Foundation neither funded the project nor own the land and building of Campus View. The Campus View price tag of $18 million was funded in part by Eastern Link Captial Management Group, with the other half funded by a loan from Benaroya Company.
Highline College Foundation, LLC is the organization leasing the space from Eastern Link to use as student housing. The project initially broke ground in August 2016.
Although the housing was originally envisioned to serve international students, the project morphed into housing for all Highline students due to the increased cost of housing in surrounding areas, Taylor Tonasket said.
“During the development and construction of Campus View, we’ve seen the cost of housing in the area go up — both to rent and to own — and we realized that our local students needed affordable options as well,” she said.
Highline College’s population comprises more than 700 international students each year who live in various off-campus locations, which are mainly single-family residences with host families, Taylor Tonasket said. This presented the initial need for affordable student housing options near campus.
More students come from Federal Way than any other city in the college’s service area, she said.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, 3,676 students, or 21.7 percent, lived in Federal Way, she said. The city of Kent is second in population makeup, with nearly 2,509 students, or 15 percent, in the 2017-2018 academic year population.
The new apartment-like units for students are competitively priced, she said. One-bedroom apartments in the area can cost between $1,200 and $1,495 monthly, without including the necessary utility costs.
At Campus View, student housing rent prices are between $2,500 and $2,700 per quarter. All utilities such as water, sewer, garbage, electricity, apartment phone and Wi-Fi are included with the quarterly cost.
Campus View will also provide jobs to community members and students.
There are two housing assistants, both whom are students, and Taylor Tonasket will seek four students to fill resident advisors (RAs) positions at the building. Another housing manager will be added to oversee the resident life portion of Campus View.
Taylor Tonasket began her position in January when the only evidence of the project was a concrete foundation.
“It is very exciting to have seen this project grow from a concrete foundation, to the framework, to a roof, walls and windows, to the interior being finished, and then the addition of the student furniture,” she said. “For me, the furniture is the cherry on top. The furniture completed the vision of a place for the students to call home while they are here at Highline.”
Much of the focus has been on the future; what needs to be accomplished today, tomorrow, next week and next month, she said.
“There have been endless lists, emails and conversations,” Taylor Tonasket said. “Standing in the building [last week] was the first time that I had a chance to stop and look at all that has been accomplished by so many people, and I thought, ‘Wow! We actually got here.’ That felt pretty good. Now, it is time to fill up the building.”
Upon completion, the entire project is a two-building development to be called Highline Place; the second building will have 229 market-rate apartments available for anyone in the community, not just Highline College students.
The second building is estimated to cost $48 million and the 18-month construction process is tentatively set to begin June 2019.
Applications for residency are now open for Campus View at Highline College. To apply for student housing or for more information, visit highline.edu/campusview.