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How to use a closed college campus? Marylhurst’s answer: affordable, efficient housing.


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A quick dive:

  • The former Marylhurst University campus, just south of Portland, Oregon, is on track to be converted into 100 affordable apartments as part of a redevelopment plan that comes four years after the institution closed.
  • Groups involved in the redevelopment, affordable housing developer Mercy Housing Northwest and property owner, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the foundation stone laying ceremony took place for last week’s project. Several public and private financial partners are also involved in the project.
  • Called Marylhurst Commons Affordable Housing, the project is slated to be one of the most energy-efficient affordable housing developments in the country.

Dive Insight:

How colleges are closed and close branches across the country, in the face of demographic headwinds and changing population patterns, questions often arise about what to do with the real estate they leave behind.

In some cases, the contending colleges were located on reclaimed land, helps them find merger partners. Others have local leaders tried to redefine college campuses as sites for workforce development programs or other types of education, from daycare centers to high schools.

Marylhurst is an example of another option: housing. The redevelopment project comes as the campus’s home county, Clackamas County, seeks to build at least 1,500 new affordable homes.

Until it closed, Marylhurst was Oregon’s oldest Catholic university. Founded in 1893, it also considered itself the first liberal arts college for women established in the Pacific Northwest. It became a joint educational institution in 1974. In the same year, it was designated as a college for continuing education.

The college reckoned The 743 students when it closed were roughly split between undergraduate and graduate schools. Most of the students, 80%, came from Oregon. Many of them were adults — the average age of undergraduates was 34, and the average age of graduate students was 38.

The institution has taken steps to try to adapt to the changing market. He was one of the pioneers of online education, starting in 1996. When it closed, many of its students were online. About a fifth were fully online, and about 58% took a combination of hybrid and online courses.

nevertheless leaders noted a decline in the number of students and an increasingly challenging fiscal picture prompted the decision to close — they said they wanted to do so while they still had the financial wherewithal to close in an orderly fashion. After the institution held its last classes in the summer of 2018, its campus was returned to the Sisters of the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who founded the institution more than a century ago.

Then the Sisters of the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary had to decide what to do about it.

“People were saying housing, we need housing,” said sister Linda Patrick said Oregon Public Broadcasting. “We need housing for people with less financial means.”

The building is planned to have highly efficient mechanical systems and windows. It is expected to use 40% less electricity than the corresponding conventional design. The building will be U-shaped, three-story and four-story. Most of its units will have two or three bedrooms.

“We value everyone in our communities and are using our resources in innovative ways to have a little more impact in finding real solutions to our state’s affordable housing shortage,” said Andrea Bell, executive director of the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Development. Services, in the statement. The department is one of several state funders that also includes the county’s housing authority.

The facility is scheduled to open in 2024.

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