HSU Foundation buys Craftsmans Mall

An aerial view of the Craftsmans Mall.

Mad River Union

ARCATA – The non-profit Humboldt State University Foundation has purchased the 8-acre property known as the Craftsmans Mall.

The property had been the proposed site for a massive and controversial student housing complex known as The Village as last as last year. It went through several iterations until the plug was officially pulled on that project in May.

Owner Russell Kirkpatrick, now deceased, had envisioned the property as a sort of artisans colony and home for craftspeople, but it had become dilapidated, with numerous code violations following his death.

Craftsmans Mall sale could eliminate local control over site development

A Humboldt State news release, below, states that the HSU Foundation will maintain it for rentals for the time being, but may use it for student and staff parking while it explores future options for development. No purchase price is mentioned in the release.

Update: Frank Whitlatch, HSU’s vice president for University Advancement and the executive director of the HSU Foundation, says that the purchase price was $3.95 million.

The news release:

HSU Foundation Makes Major Local Investment

The Humboldt State University Foundation - the non-profit organization that accepts donations and manages the endowment for the University - has made a new investment in local real estate. It completed the purchase of nearly eight developable acres within one mile of campus that is known as Craftsman Mall.

The property will be held as part of the endowment investments, generating income through rent paid by various small-business tenants. A local property manager will be selected to handle day-to-day oversight.

When needed, the property will be available to the University for any number of uses to support students, academic programs, and campus life. In the short term, the University will be exploring the possibility of providing free satellite parking for students as well as the possibility of parking for faculty and staff.

“The HSU Foundation Board took a very close look at this, and it made good sense,” said Jenny Harris, the Foundation board chair. “This is an investment into the community that embraces HSU. It’s our commitment to grow and expand with the community. Additionally, the property will serve as a good income-producing investment. The Foundation will hold the property and the income generated will be used for the scholarships and programs that are supported by the endowment.”

“This was a unique opportunity,” said Frank Whitlatch, HSU’s vice president for University Advancement and the executive director of the HSU Foundation. “The property is flat and open, and very close to campus. As HSU plans for future success and as the University grows, there is no doubt that this will be an important asset.”

The HSU Foundation Board reviewed and discussed the property purchase for a number of months before making the decision to invest in it.

The HSU Foundation oversees an endowment worth more than $33 million. The endowment is made up primarily of donor-created funds for specific purposes, including various scholarships and programs such as the Schatz Energy Research Center. The Foundation invests these funds so that they exist in perpetuity while also generating income to support the purposes for which they were created. Investments are mostly in mutual funds, bonds, and real estate funds, and have generated a return of just over 6 percent over the last two decades.

During the last year, the endowment distributed about $1.3 million for scholarships and programs.

The Foundation is overseen by a Board of Directors made up primarily of volunteers, nearly all of whom are also major donors to the University.

More information about the Foundation, and about how individuals can support the students and programs at HSU, is at giving.humboldt.edu.


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