Goal: Create a unique student living experience for a small University while also saving one of the oldest buildings within the City of Mesa, AZ by converting a nationally recognized historic hotel into dormitory style student housing.

Completed in 2016, the Alhambra Student Housing project brought new life to a brick building from the late 19th century. With years of deferred maintenance, the old Alhambra Hotel was begging for a new life. St. Benedictine University, located 1/4 mile from the Alhambra Hotel, had a need to provide their students with a housing option. The Alhambra Hotel was a perfect fit. By opening the street-facing ground floor and renovating the small hotel rooms into dorm rooms, the University was able to offer over 60 beds to their students with unique study and common spaces. The once barren courtyard was re-designed to offer students an outdoor living room to enjoy the Arizona weather.


The Alhambra Student Housing project exemplifies the ability to work with local lenders and to find creative financing solutions to fulfill the vision of re-developing a rare, historic building. CDP presented the project to local lenders and investors, highlighting the need for student housing as well as the opportunity to save one of the most precious buildings within the Downtown Mesa. CDP was able to secure an 80% LTV construction loan as well as a seller carried land loan. By working together with a mission driven lender and motivated seller, the project became a reality.

  • Number of units: 36
  • Number of Beds: 58
  • Lot size: 0.22 acres
  • Unit size: 90-160 square feet
  • Unit mix: 15 Single Bed, 21 Double Bed, 1 Triple Bed
  • Parking Spaces: 10
  • Architect: John Douglass Architects
  • Contractor: Venue Builders
  • Property Management: St. Benedictine University
  • Nonprofit General Partner: St. Benedictine University


CDP is proud to partner with these organizations, dedicated to bettering the lives not only of The Alhambra Student Housing’s residents, but of those lower-income residents in surrounding communities.

Venue Projects

A local developer, Venue Projects focuses on small but high-impact redevelopment projects throughout the Phoenix Valley. CDP and Venue Projects partnered on the Alhambra Student Housing project to assure the financing, design, construction and tenant curation all came together seamlessly.

St. Benedictine University

Founded in 1887 in Lisle, Illinois, St. Benedictine University (Ben U) decided to invest in a satellite campus in Downtown Mesa. This brought a young population of students to a struggling downtown center with no real attraction. The Mesa, AZ campus student body has been growing at an incredible rate each year since opening in 2013. Ben U partnered with CDP and Venue Projects to realize their dream of offering student housing. Student often participated in planning of common spaces, room layout and finishes. They also voted their desire for a space to potentially open a student-run food and beverage concept in conjunction with their business class requirements.

City of Mesa

With a project that included a downtown university as well as a piece of the oldest building stock still standing, the City of Mesa was a crucial piece to the Alhambra Student Housing project puzzle. The City facilitated a prompt review of construction documents and permit issuance, so the project timeline was not affected. Since the existing building was built with a zero-lot-line, there was no space for parking. The City worked closely to create permitted on-street parking dedicated for student residents.