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October 31, 2018

Whatcom CC getting its first dorm and a learning center in Bellingham

Images from Whatcom Community College [enlarge]
The $35.7 million Phyllis & Charles Self Learning Commons is the first large state-funded project on the campus since 2004.

The $28 million dorm will house about 240 students. Rentals are tight in Bellingham so WCC may build more housing later.

Whatcom Community College has two major construction projects underway: an academic center and a student residence hall.

The $35.7 million Phyllis & Charles Self Learning Commons, which broke ground in April, is the first large state-funded construction project on the Bellingham campus since 2004.

The three-story, 65,300-square-foot building will house a library, academic support services, multimedia center, and study and collaboration spaces. The 16,000-square-foot library will include space for Bellingham Public Library, offering service to local residents.

Schreiber Starling Whitehead is the architect and Colacurcio Bros. is the general contractor.

According to the architect, the site is near the main campus entrance, and the new building will define the edge of a new campus green. There will also be a ground-level plaza, and roof decks on the second and third floors.

Work is slated to finish in time for a fall 2020 opening.

WCC is also building its first student residence hall.

The four-story, 89,000-square-foot project broke ground last month and will house around 240 students.

The site, at 204 Short St., is on an 8-acre, college-owned property just east of campus.

Ankrom Moisan Architects is designing the $28 million residence hall and Tiger Construction is the general contractor.

Units will be a mix of furnished studios to four-bedroom apartments. Parking is provided on site.

The building will have study spaces on each floor, community gardens, covered bike storage, college housing offices, community kitchens and common areas.

Completion is planned for August 2020.

Funding is from a bond backed by student rental income.

In future phases WCC may build two more residential buildings and a multi-use facility.

Nathan Langstraat, vice president for administrative services at WCC, said given the tight housing market in Bellingham, the school has long recognized the need for on-campus housing.

“At the time of our feasibility study, the vacancy rate in our neighborhood was about 1 percent,” he said. “This makes securing housing extremely challenging for our students, especially those first-time renters and those coming to Whatcom Community College from out of the area.”

The school has been leasing apartments at three different complexes — a total of 164 beds — within a few miles of campus. The school will likely continue to lease the units after the project is complete, depending on student needs, Langstraat said.

Whatcom Community College serves about 11,500 students annually on its 72-acre campus — including more than 300 students from 30 countries.

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