(Reuters) - Stanford University unveiled a $3.4 billion plan on Monday to build thousands of homes for students and staff to ease a local housing crunch, but some officials expressed concern the project would worsen problems such as street traffic.
The prestigious university, which has played a key role in the development of Silicon Valley’s technology sector, is seeking to build 2.3 million square feet of facilities on and around its campus in Santa Clara County over about two decades.
Negotiations between the university and county officials over the project broke off in April, said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
The university’s latest proposal comes as it seeks to restart those negotiations, and it faces a number of hurdles to get its plan approved.
“The bottom line is it (the plan) still fails to fully mitigate the adverse impacts of the university’s development,” Simitian said in a phone interview.
County officials are concerned the project could worsen street traffic and the affordability of housing in the area, among other concerns, he said.
Stanford University is seeking to build the project in an area with one of the nation’s highest housing costs, due in part to high salaries in Silicon Valley’s booming tech sector. The supply of new houses and apartments has not kept up with demand, with diminishing options for low- and middle-income residents.
The median home price in Santa Clara County is nearly $1.2 million, according to real estate database company Zillow. Stanford has proposed building 2,172 workforce housing units, including 575 below-market priced housing units, and 2,600 student beds.
“The Stanford community is confronting the serious regional challenges of affordability, housing availability and traffic congestion and we’re working to do our part to promote solutions that serve Stanford and our neighbors,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement.
Stanford, in addition to investing $3.4 billion to develop housing, would also spend more than $1.1 billion for transportation improvements and other community benefits, including bicycle and transit infrastructure projects, the university said in a statement.
The county planning commission is scheduled to consider the university’s expansion at a meeting on Thursday, Simitian said.
The university is seeking to have the project approved in bilateral negotiations, instead of the normal planning process, Simitian said.
Stanford said in a statement it was seeking to obtain certainty in negotiations that the project will move forward.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Michael Perry