Prior to the start of the academic year, the privately owned residence hall Tropicana Gardens purchased the neighboring Fontainebleu buildings and renovated the facilities in an effort to garner more student tenants.

[media-credit name=”Photo Courtesy of Dave Wilcox” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Located across the street from Tropicana Gardens at 6525 El Colegio Road, the main residence hall of Fontainebleu will be renamed “Tropicana Del Norte,” while the Fontainebleu Annex located at 811 Camino Pescadero will be renamed the “Villas at Tropicana.” The purchase was made on August 27, after the SBCC students moved in and prior to UCSB student arrival.

According to Dave Wilcox, executive director of Tropicana Gardens, the decision to purchase the Fontainebleu residence halls and annex was possible partly due to Tropicana’s success.

“There was an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to build upon what we already have here at Tropicana Gardens,” Wilcox said. “Ultimately, we wanted to increase the amount of students within our Tropicana community. We were 100 percent occupied, and [Fontainebleu was] less than 50 percent occupied. You can look at that and read in between the lines.”

As part of the change in ownership, $12 million has been designated to remodel the old residence halls and annex, with more renovations to be planned in the future.

Wilcox said one of the changes included matching faculty membership at Tropicana Del Norte with that of their original facility. He noted that they retained and expanded upon Del Norte’s original staff members to meet their needs.

“We hired additional staff in anticipation of the building and retained their student staff,” Wilcox said. “All in all we are a staff of 30 students, from both the university and city college.”

One of the major changes has been the reconfiguration of the annex into a fully furnished apartment complex with multiple leasing options.

“We have really geared it towards the upperclassmen,” Wilcox said. “Before, you had to buy a meal plan to live at the annex, and then travel three-quarters of a mile to the main residence halls to eat at their cafeteria. The students were not happy about that and we listened to what they were saying.”

According to Wilcox, students can now use the amenities at any of the facilities interchangeably, regardless of the specific residency they live at.

“We are all one big family. We are really going to be Tropicana Housing, so under them are Tropicana Gardens and Del Norte, and then you also have the Villas,” Wilcox said. “So it is similar to the dorms located on campus and then Santa Catalina located off campus.”