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Chapman’s New Student Housing Will Celebrate The Orange’s Packing History

After receiving a green light from the City of Orange several months ago, Chapman University last week took its first steps in building a 402-bed, three-story student apartment and converting the 99-year-old historic Villa Park Orchards Association Packing House into a museum and student services center. 

Chapman University's new student housing building will provide 402 beds for undergraduates.
Chapman University's student housing development in Orange, Calif.

KTGY principal Ken Ryan, who heads the company's Community Planning and Urban Design Studio, said the university began the first phase of the project in the first week of January. The university moved two storage sheds that were part of the original historic site to the north side of the four-acre property at Cypress Street and Palm Avenue in Orange for preservation and repurposing.

The move of these two historic sheds is part of the city’s Design Review Committee, Chapman and KTGY’s effort to link the property’s unique orange-packing history to the students who will reside on campus. 

“In its day, agriculture was one of the main industrial economic drivers in Southern California,” Ryan said. “It’s important that we recognize and preserve the site’s historic character while balancing the demand for student housing.”

Chapman University's will convert a 99-year-old former fruit packinghouse into a museum, student services center, and classrooms/offices for the school.
Renderings of Chapman University's proposed student housing and adaptive reuse project.

Built in 1918, the building used to be the headquarters for the Santiago Orange Growers Association — at the time the largest fruit packinghouse operator in the city. The association went under in 1967 and the Villa Park Orchards Association took over the site. Chapman purchased the property in 2004 and leased it to Villa Park Orchards Association until 2006.

The city approved the construction of the 402-bed residence hall in August.

The new student housing development will add to Chapman’s existing 2,400 beds for students. 

Chapman also recently purchased the Katella Grand apartments in nearby Anaheim for $148M. The Katella Grand will be renamed the Chapman Grand and house 900 students, Ryan said.

Ryan said the packinghouse’s exterior would be restored and house student services and other university-related uses such as classrooms, offices or the school’s Hilbert Museum of California Art.

A historic railroad spur that once was used to transport citrus will be brought back to life and repurposed as part of the landscape, Ryan said. 

There also will be historic markers along the railroad spur to inform students and passersby about the history of the site.

The student housing and renovation of the packinghouse should be ready by fall 2019, according to Ryan.