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Umpqua Community College buys three buildings in Roseburg for student housing

Two-story student residence.
Photo provided by UCC
The Flegel Center, now known as the Hawk's Nest, is one of three buildings recently purchased by UCC for student housing.

Downtown Roseburg is becoming home to a growing number of students from Umpqua Community College.

UCC has purchased three buildings in the area for $1.925 million, for what will eventually be converted to 62,000 sq. ft. of student housing.

The spaces used to be the old Newberry’s department store, the Roseburg post office, and the Flegel Center–a building that originally served as a National Guard armory and was converted into a community center in the 1970’s.

Nikki Messenger, the Roseburg City Manager, said this builds on previous efforts to revitalize the downtown.

“The city’s invested quite a bit through its Urban Renewal District,” she told KLCC. “If you included the construction of our public safety center downtown, we would be north of $20 million invested between that and other infrastructure improvements, to make a very walkable downtown. And it’s great to see more and more people available to take advantage of that.”

UCC students hanging out in their housing unit's kitchen.
Photo provided by UCC.
UCC students hanging out in their housing unit's kitchen.

The development’s projected to bring 100 students to downtown Roseburg. That’s in addition to 45 already living in a building called Hawks Landing since the summer of 2021.

The main campus of Umpqua Community College is seven miles north of downtown Roseburg near the community of Winchester.

Messenger said it’s been great to see an increased student presence in the city’s center, and was excited for UCC’s investment in the area.

“It’s great to see some of their athlete’s downtown, they volunteer, they really contribute to the community,” she said.

In a press release, UCC President Rachel Pokrandt said, “There is a lot of buzz in the state about workforce housing. Over 70% of UCC students hold a job and many of those are full-time. If you’ve gone out to eat, gone to the grocery store, had your car serviced or grabbed a coffee any time recently you’ve probably been served by a UCC student. Student housing is workforce housing.”

In the same release, UCC Board of Education Chair Steve Loosely added, “The college has been a great steward of public funds over the past few years, and we are proud to be in a position to invest in the college and the community in this way.”

Aside from a pause during theCOVID-19 pandemic and a drop in Oregon Lottery funds, efforts to revitalize downtown Roseburg have been underway for several years. This has included beautification of public walkways, providing housing, working to fill storefronts and preservinghistoric sites such as the Grand Hotel (now the Grand Apartments.)

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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