Study session on proposed GCC dorm planned

Glendale Community College officials have seven weeks to formally express interest in a $30-million dormitory or lose the opportunity with a developer offering to finance and construct it.

Last month, the WAM Development Group, which has offices in Arizona and Canada, pitched the one-year, exclusive right-to-negotiate contract to explore the possibility of building a 175-room residential facility. It would house the college’s growing ranks of international students, WAM senior vice president Kent Merselis said, and be funded and operated at no cost to the college

The preliminary proposal generated a lukewarm response, with stakeholders expressing concerns about parking, liability issues and hidden costs. But on Monday, college President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said that developer has the $30 million in hand.

“The developer needs to make a decision as to whether they are going to be interested in working with us, and us interested in working with them, by Oct. 15,” Lindsay said. “So we need to either make a decision that we want to investigate and go into this letter of interest, or we need to make a decision that this isn’t something we want to pursue at this point and time.”

Initially, the developer identified a city-owned parking lot at East Mountain Street and Verdugo Road as the probable site. But in updated plans released this week, the company now is proposing building the dorm on campus, on the upper lot near the Life Long Learning Center and the Glendale (2) Freeway.

The updated plans also attempted to address some of the concerns voiced at a July meeting, proposing a parking lot in the base of the dormitory to alleviate parking constraints.

Nevertheless, there seemed to be more questions than answers this week.

“How do college policies regarding smoking, drinking, etc. apply to dormitories?” college Board of Trustees member Vahe Peroomian said. “How attractive are they going to be if students can have a dorm, but can’t drink in it, for example?”

Board member Tony Tartaglia also warned of hidden costs.

“This can’t be discussed in isolation to our General Fund,” Tartaglia said. “For example … we don’t have 24-hour security. Now we are going to have people on campus. That changes our whole dynamics of how our security system would work.”

Board member Armine Hacopian said she felt the college was being put under the gun.

“I don’t think we will have all the answers that we need by Oct. 15,” Hacopian said.

The Board of Trustees requested a special study session — expected to take place sometime in the coming weeks — to further delve into the details of the proposal. It will also be fast-tracked through the college’s traditional vetting processes at the student and faculty level.

“The developer made it very, very clear that he wanted to make sure that he was working with a panel of students to discuss these issues, a panel of faculty … because it is an opportunity, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right opportunity for Glendale College,” Lindsay said.

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