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FARMINGTON – Approval of a more than $14-million loan to build housing on the San Juan College campus for 150 students was announced Tuesday at the first San Juan College Board of Trustees work session of the new year.

Executive Vice President Ed DesPlas announced that the college was approved for the loan by the New Mexico Finance Authority’s Public Project Revolving Fund in a unanimous vote.

The college now seeks an architect for the project in time to present a plan to the Board of Trustees by their next meeting in February.

To receive funding from the state’s finance authority, the college will have to present a plan to be approved by the New Mexico Higher Education Department. Then the plan must be approved by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

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DesPlas said the future student housing facility will not be dorms, but rather apartments set aside only for San Juan College students, not the general public. 

Students will initially pay “slightly below market value” rent according to DesPlas, with the $14 million loan being paid back largely through rent paid by students.

Previous plans for student housing on campus had called for a facility with the space to house approximately 380 students. DesPlas said that the college tried to get financing for a larger housing facility but couldn’t find the necessary financing and is instead moving forward with plans to initially house 150 students.

“Designing a 376 person facility wasn’t done on a whim, it was done based on market feasibility studies,” DesPlas said. Those feasibility studies included surveys from San Juan College students in need of housing, and projections of future student enrollment trends.

“But, It’ll be designed on the assumption that there will be a phase two,” DesPlas said, referring to the possibility of future housing projects after the completion of the initial project.

DesPlas also expressed interest in creating a small health center near the future apartments, and other facilities to serve students living in those apartments.

“It’s difficult for students to get housing,” DesPlas said.

DesPlas projected a groundbreaking date sometime by the end of the year, and a projected “population date” when students could move in to the completed apartments sometime in the fall of 2022.

Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 or via email at sribakoff@daily-times.com.

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