The Craftsman Mall property.


The Outpost got word earlier today that the Humboldt State University Foundation, a nonprofit that manages a sizable endowment for the university, has purchased the 9.5-acre parcel north of campus known as the Craftsman (or Craftsman’s) Mall.

This property, as many Arcata residents no doubt recall, was slated to be developed into a large-scale mixed-residency development, with a big focus on providing student housing. The proposal was met with controversy, community debate, developer revisions and seemingly interminable deliberations from the Arcata City Council (see links below) before the developers finally withdrew their application in May

Reached this afternoon, HSU Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the HSU Foundation Frank Whitlatch confirmed that the nonprofit purchased the property for $3.95 million. 

A press release forwarded by Whitlatch doesn’t identify any specific plans for the property, saying only that it will be available “for any number of uses to support students, academic programs, and campus life.”

Whitlatch adds, in the release, that “as the University grows, there is no doubt that this will be an important asset.”

Here’s the full release:

The Humboldt State University Foundation — the non-profit organization that accepts donations and manages the endowment for the University — has made a new investment in local real estate. It completed the purchase of nearly eight developable acres within one mile of campus that is known as Craftsman Mall. 

The property will be held as part of the endowment investments, generating income through rent paid by various small-business tenants. A local property manager will be selected to handle day-to-day oversight.

When needed, the property will be available to the University for any number of uses to support students, academic programs, and campus life. In the short term, the University will be exploring the possibility of providing free satellite parking for students as well as the possibility of parking for faculty and staff.

“The HSU Foundation Board took a very close look at this, and it made good sense,” said Jenny Harris, the Foundation Board Chair.

“This is an investment into the community that embraces HSU. It’s our commitment to grow and expand with the community. Additionally, the property will serve as a good income-producing investment. The Foundation will hold the property and the income generated will be used for the scholarships and programs that are supported by the endowment.”

“This was a unique opportunity,” said Frank Whitlatch, HSU’s Vice President for University Advancement and the Executive Director of the HSU Foundation. “The property is flat and open, and very close to campus. As HSU plans for future success and as the University grows, there is no doubt that this will be an important asset.”

The HSU Foundation Board reviewed and discussed the property purchase for a number of months before making the decision to invest in it.

The HSU Foundation oversees an endowment worth more than $33 million. The endowment is made up primarily of donor-created funds for specific purposes, including various scholarships and programs such as the Schatz Energy Research Center. The Foundation invests these funds so that they exist in perpetuity while also generating income to support the purposes for which they were created. Investments are mostly in mutual funds, bonds, and real estate funds, and have generated a return of just over 6 percent over the last two decades.

During the last year, the endowment distributed about $1.3 million for scholarships and programs.

The Foundation is overseen by a Board of Directors made up primarily of volunteers, nearly all of whom are also major donors to the University. 

More information about the Foundation, and about how individuals can support the students and programs at HSU, is at