Orange City Council to Consider Chapman University’s $6.5 Million Bid for Vacant Parcel Next to 5 Freeway


Courtesy of Google Maps
Chapman University wants to buy about two acres (shaded yellow) adjacent to the 5 Freeway and its Panther Village (shaded blue).


By Daniel Langhorne

The Orange City Council on Tuesday will consider selling Chapman University about two acres adjacent to the 5 Freeway at Chapman Avenue for $6.5 million, a deal that would pave the way for a high-rise student dormitory building that could alleviate the University’s housing shortage.

The property is landlocked by Chapman’s Panther Village, Park Royale Mobile Home Park and the Irvine Co.’s Gateway Apartment Homes.

Harold Hewitt, Chapman’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, discussed potential uses for the property at the October meeting of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC). The University created the NAC last year to solicit advice from a hand-picked group of community leaders on its plan to grow over the next decade.

“It’s possible that the University would build a high-density structure on that property and then replace the former low-rise hotel that now houses Panther Village with a similar structure,” Hewitt said, according to the NAC’s minutes.

During a recent interview with The Foothills Sentry, Chapman President Emeritus Jim Doti recently said the University’s architects for this project would not be bound by the height restrictions of Old Towne Orange.

“If we were able to acquire that land and get the go ahead we could finish that in two years,” Doti said.

Chapman’s goal is to house 50 percent of its undergraduate population in on-campus in five to six years, according to NAC minutes. The Old Towne Preservation Association is pushing for university officials to increase that percentage to at least 65 percent if not more.

The 2.58-acre parcel was obtained by the CalTrans for a freeway expansion project. When the project was completed in the late 1990s, CalTrans designated the property as surplus and the Orange Redevelopment Agency purchased it for a future water well site.

City officials determined that only .44 acres will be needed for the well, leaving the remaining 2.14 acres available for sale and development. The property’s base appraisal was for $6 million but noted that its value could be reduced to $2.4 million because the project has no direct access from a public roadway, according to a staff report.

Orange plans to use about $3.5 million from the property’s sale to build the proposed water well.

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