Saturday, June 15

Gayley Towers to be redeveloped into affordable co-living apartments

Pictured are apartments in Westwood. Gayley Towers will be reconstructed to include affordable housing units. (Daily Bruin file photo)

This post was updated July 9 at 9:20 p.m.

UCLA is redeveloping Gayley Towers into co-living apartments to open as soon as fall 2026.

The new building – designed by architecture firm Mithun – will have a total of 187 bedrooms and 545 beds in triple-occupancy rooms, according to Urbanize LA, a commercial real estate development news organization. With funding from the state, the majority of beds will be available at lower monthly rental rates of $600 while the other 184 will be at market-value rates, according to Urbanize LA.

Elizabeth Brady, a rising third-year political science and public affairs student who is also a Daily Bruin Opinion columnist, said the co-living apartment style offers more beds than traditional apartment buildings as living spaces, study rooms, bathrooms and kitchens are shared spaces. Another UCLA apartment building – Hilgard – is also shared housing, said Brady, who is also the undergraduate representative on the North Westwood Neighborhood Council.

“Having housing that isn’t as expensive, especially for college students who are just starting out with their lives, … it’s necessary,” Brady said.

Following the plan’s environmental review – which started earlier this year – construction is expected to begin in 2024. UCLA Housing said in an emailed statement that the university plans to go before the UC Board of Regents in September for approval of the project.

UCLA Housing said it decided to redevelop Gayley Towers because the current building does not offer many beds. The apartment building will not offer on-site parking.

Paavo Monkkonen, a professor of urban planning and housing, said a lack of access to housing that is affordable affects children’s education and individuals’ health and social life, along with other things. As housing prices continue to rise, affordable dorms are important for first-generation college students and students from low-income families, he added.

“Students will be more successful if they don’t have to worry about rent … as intensely as I think a lot of them do,” Monkkonen said.

Brady said it’s important to have housing that is affordable for UCLA students as individuals attempt to financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Westwood is one of the most expensive area codes in the country, Brady added.

Andrew Lewis, the vice president of the NWWNC, said UCLA has already made strides in accessible housing by offering guaranteed on-campus housing for four or two years for incoming freshman and transfer students, respectively.

Monkkonen said that, because the UC has some control over zoning and the height of its buildings, UCLA should be more aggressive in housing construction.

“I think UCLA is disadvantaged in some ways because the neighborhoods to the east and north are extremely affluent and resistant to new housing,” he said. “I don’t think that UCLA has to listen to those neighborhoods as much as it might have in the past.”

Monkkonen also said offering housing that is affordable can help alleviate rental pressures students place on other locations such as Koreatown when they choose to live outside Westwood.

Brady said it’s important for students interested in living in the new space to be familiar with co-living and know that it doesn’t take away from the college experience.

Lewis said the new development potentially signals that UCLA has realized that housing accessibility and affordability help retain students, staff and faculty.

“Students recognize, ‘Hey, I might have gotten into UCLA, but I don’t have a lot of discretionary money to spend while I’m there,’” Lewis said. “UCLA is starting to realize that the quality retention of students – even faculty and staff that want to live in the area – is really tied to making the surrounding area more livable.”

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