Representatives from Cal Poly Humboldt, Associated Students, CSU and City of Arcata break out the golden shovels and dig up some dirt at the Craftsman Mall site | Photos: Stephanie McGeary


Representatives from Cal Poly Humboldt, California State University, the City of Arcata and more gathered at the long-vacant Craftsman Mall site in Arcata Friday morning to celebrate the official groundbreaking of the university’s largest-ever student housing development. 

“This project underscores Cal Poly Humboldt’s exciting future as a polytechnic,” Tom Jackson, president of Cal Poly Humboldt said during the ceremony. “Student housing will be the first facility built as part of our polytechnic agenda, and also demonstrates our commitment to honor the designation with great responsibility as we continue to maintain the commitment to invest infrastructure resources for our polytechnic transformation.” 

The university (back when it was still HSU) purchased the property in 2020, saying that it would be set aside for some kind of future development. Many Arcata residents no doubt remember that for several years the property was slated to be developed into a large-scale housing development known as “the Village” — a proposed project that was met with controversy, community debate and seemingly endless deliberations from the Arcata City Council, until the developers withdrew their application in 2020. 

As many people would have guessed, the university decided to use the property to build additional student housing and announced plans for the roughly $200 million project earlier this year. Developers Sundt Construction and SCB Construction expect to complete the project by 2025. 

The facility will consist of two large buildings, hold 241 units (a combination of two, three and four-bedroom apartments) and will house up to 964 students.  In addition to the housing units, the site will hold 328 parking spaces, a covered bike storage, recreation facilities, a fitness center, a courtyard, common lounges, study and conference spaces and a café/market that will be available for students, university employees and other members of the community. The facility will also meet LEED sustainability standards, with electric vehicle charging stations and a high-efficiency irrigation system for the landscaping.

President Tom Jackson and Larry L. Adamson, alumni trustee

Mike Fisher, associate vice president for facilities management, said during the ceremony that the university will also be creating an “accessible shuttle service” that will provide transportation between the new student housing site, campus, off-site parking and the university’s new Health Care Education Hub, which will take over the old warehouse on Samoa Boulevard. 

Fisher added that Cal Poly Humboldt partnered with the City of Arcata to complete a segment of the Annie and Mary Trail, which will run alongside the housing site and connect to Sunset Ave. The entire trail is planned to eventually connect from the Bay Trail all the way to Blue Lake. 

Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer told the Outpost that developers should complete the segment of the trail by the time the housing development opens in 2025 and that the city and the university will likely share trail maintenance duties. Diemer added that she is excited to see a housing project finally moving forward on the Craftsman Mall site. 

“People talk a lot about the relationship between the university and the city and the truth is we are completely interwoven,” Diemer said during the ceremony. “Building and partnering on this future housing for students is just one really natural extension of that partnership.”

Rendering of the student housing development | Image from Cal Poly Humboldt

Emcee Sherie Cornish Gordon, Vice president for administration & finance for CPH, introduces Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer

All the folks involved in today’s event