Board of Regents approve plan to raise dorm fees to pay for $850 million project
During spring break, Housing and Food Services (HFS) unveiled an $850 million plan to build five new dorm sites and remodel current ones.
Last month, the Board of Regents approved a 6 percent fee hike for dorm students. Four percent makes up for normal increases, while 2 percent will go to the project, said Eric Godfrey, the UW vice provost for student life.
HFS doesn’t expect to receive state money for the project and has not set forth any fundraising campaigns.
“We’re called … an auxiliary within the institution, so we don’t receive state money,” said Rob Lubin, the assistant director for housing facilities for HFS. “That money (donation money) is more valuable for the academic pursuits.”
A 2 percent increase will be added yearly until the loans are paid, Godfrey said.
The new plan, which allocates housing to 2,300 more students, will include a series of new buildings on Northeast Campus Parkway and a set of apartments where Mercer now stands.
“I have been told that it’s (Mercer) simply not worth the cost of renovation,” Godfrey said.
Although Mercer is the only dorm being demolished, HFS plans to level the Brooklyn Building, which has already been vacated.
In 2013, HFS plans to start remodeling McMahon, Terry, Lander, Haggett, McCarty and Hansee halls. It would be too expensive to demolish and rebuild them because they’re high-rise buildings, Lubin said.
All of the “threesome” rooms, which were originally meant for two, will be renovated back to two-person dorm rooms. The plan will eliminate half of the triple rooms by late 2011, and all of them by 2014.
“The plan stretches out of the next 12 years at least,” Godfrey said. “It’s a long plan that will be done over phases.”
Although HFS plans to complete the project by 2019, it is being done in phases because they are subject to change, Godfrey said.
The new dorm rooms were selected after HFS conducted several focus groups and a widespread campus survey.
Although the exterior of the buildings has not been decided, Lubin said HFS hopes to include student opinion.
Both styles of dorm rooms eliminate “gang bathrooms.” Each room will have its own bathroom.
Two of the five dorm sites will be constructed as apartments to attract more upperclassmen to campus. Each apartment will have four separate rooms: two bathrooms, a kitchen and living area.
“It’s a very similar floor plan to Stevens court. … It allows people to live in a private bedroom and live in a place they can cook for themselves,” Lubin said. He said it works well for upperclassmen because they have privacy, but they don’t have to worry about roommates giving them problems with rent.
Right now, the UW dorms host about 5,100 students, but they were only meant to host about 4,500. The University foresees an additional demand for 3,400 spaces. While these are two key reasons for the project, the administration is also concerned about the lack of community on the UW campus, Godfrey said.
While 65 percent of freshmen live in the dorms, but many students move off-campus after just a year in the dorms. The administration hopes the new dorms and apartments will strengthen student presence, especially among upperclassmen.
“By bringing more students down here, we can make it more lively,” Lubin said.
With the higher population density, the dorms will attract more local businesses, UW programs and potentially another branch of the IMA, he added.
“We’ve been working very hard; as a university finding more ways to build a deeper sense of community and engagement for our students, we know infrastructure … can help tremendously,” Godfrey said.
[Reach reporter Celeste Flint at email@example.com.]
By the Numbers
$850,000: cost of project
3,255: new beds
34.3%: capacity increase
141.6%: single room increase
5: new buildings
12: years of construction
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