Laguna College of Art and Design took the wraps off its newest housing expansion for its freshman class last Friday, a near doubling of housing for 40 students at least 100 miles from home.
Adjacent to the Tivoli Too grounds and controlled by the owners of event space Seven Degrees, the 8,000 square feet structure less than a mile from the main Laguna Canyon campus is more akin to compact apartments than a typical dormitory. It features tiny double bunked bedrooms with streamlined common kitchen areas, a laundry room and an outdoor patio and living area.
Even so, the extra student suites displace studio space used by seniors and graduate students and not unexpectedly stir up some town and gown friction over the college’s continuing expansion.
Mushrooming in recent years beyond its original campus to accommodate additional academic departments, the college now has leased or purchased seven outlying buildings throughout Laguna Canyon and continues to hunt no further than its immediate environs to fulfill its needs. Enrollment in the college’s graduate and undergraduate disciplines of drawing, painting, game art, animation, graphic design and illustration is projected at 500 students when classes begin on Monday, Aug. 27, a roughly 40 percent increase since 2005. LCAD president Jonathan Burke expects growth to top out at 650 students, suggesting a continuing space crunch in the immediate future.
Administrators plan to address the current void for studios and a student center by renovating a 5,400-square foot building nearly opposite the main campus, leased beginning Aug. 1 from the Good family trust, according to administrator Phillip Good, who contacted college officials in January to gauge their interest in the site.
The lease held by the current tenant, Sports Performance Institute, expired last year, but Good said he agreed to hold off their eviction until July 30.
In the meantime, proprietors Eric Parizek, Silvio Delligatta, Mike Catanzaro and John Thomas have tried, so far without success, to find a site to relocate their business.
Still hoping for an amicable outcome, Parizek and Delligata last week said they need more time. “We would loose most of our membership if we were to put the equipment into storage and remain out of sight for two months,” they said.
First established as a gym in 1983, it had changed hands several times before the current partners took over in 1999. They created a clean, light-filled workout space embraced by 300 co-ed members and specialize in personalized training for a wide range of athletes, including several Laguna police officers.
“The membership is really more like a family than a regular gym,” said Scott Sanchez, 48, a multi-sport athlete who after 2.5 years of SPI training describes himself as in the best shape of his life. The owners are also athletes who understand the needs of those seeking recreational fitness as well as the competitive athlete, he said. “As owners of the gym they spend a significant amount of time with their clients making sure they train correctly, diet correctly and achieve their goals. It is in their best interest to do this as they are the ones paying the bills.”
With relocation in limbo, the gym partners requested a Dec. 31 extension from their new landlord. The gym’s attorney, Tom Davis, says negotiations with college administrators are continuing though no such extension has yet been finalized.
However, Burke cautioned: “We are ready to take possession in October. Our architects advised us that we need at least three months to get the studios ready for the 2013 spring semester.”
Coincidentally, another canyon gym, the former Laguna Girls’ Gym, was also converted into artist studio space for use by working professionals.