By: C. Harold Pierce
Faculty will have additional parking across the street next fall after the district purchases a $5 million
vacant lot east of campus.
Rancho Santiago Community College District signed a one-year, lease-to-purchase agreement using Measure E funds.
About 150 spaces will be constructed in the vacant lot with the goal of opening in 2014, said Michael Collins,
vice president of administrative services.
The lot used to be Guero’s Auto Repair and Santa Ana Dental. The dental office was demolished two years ago, and Guero’s Auto Repair will be torn down when ground breaks on construction of the lot.
The district paid $5 million to Danforth Holdings, a Santa Ana-based development agency. The property has an assessed value of $3.6 million.
“Anytime any land becomes available near campus, we jump on it. We wish it were cheaper,” Chancellor Raul Rodriguez said.
Danforth Holdings planned to build a retail center on the corner of Bristol and 17th streets.
The developer demanded an additional $1.4 million to cover planning costs, said Peter Hardash, vice chancellor of business operations and fiscal services.
As an added condition, they required RSCCD to lease the property for one year at $3,500 per month to cover property taxes.
But the district will use earnings from an existing cell tower to cover part of the lease.
“It’s one of the busiest corners in Orange County, and the busiest in Santa Ana. Obviously, that’s prime to us because it’s right adjacent to Santa Ana College,” Hardash said.
The college has yet to hire a construction firm, but rough estimates for a temporary parking lot range from $500,000 to $1 million, Hardash said.
Some of the costs of a surface parking lot are covered by Measure E funds, but future plans for a multi-level parking structure have no funding source, Hardash said.
Campus expansion has crawled at a glacial pace because of its location in a developed part of town.
The college’s summer land purchase will likely be its last.
“I know in our lifetime, this is it,” Hardash said. “We don’t have anywhere to go. We’re landlocked.”
At 65 acres, SAC is the smallest community college in Orange County, but has one of the largest student populations at about 19,000.
The district’s last land purchase was in 2003. The property, west of College Avenue, is now a soccer complex, a maintenance facility and a parking lot.