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Plans unveiled for on-campus student apartments

Feb. 4, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University officials have been meeting with student groups for the past two weeks to get input and put the finishing touches on plans for a new student apartment complex that will be built on the main campus beginning this summer.

Four buildings--Phase I of a planned two-phase construction program--will be constructed south of the Trimpe building between Knollwood Avenue and South Kohrman Hall. Site work on the project will begin in April and actual construction is slated to begin in July. The one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units are designed to house upperclassmen. They will provide new on-campus housing to more than 300 students, beginning in fall 2011.

Addressing the changing needs of students

The decision to update the University's housing stock and tailor the new construction to the needs of upperclassmen is the result of earlier extensive market research and an analysis of on-campus housing demand in recent years, including the ongoing existence of a long waiting list for campus apartments. Phase I is the first part of a multi-year effort to address changing student needs as well as replace on-campus apartments that have been demolished or are slated for future demolition.

"We know many students still want to live on campus after their freshman year, and we know that students who live on campus are more successful academically," says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs. "Our current residence halls are designed for beginning students and are meant to encourage interaction and the establishment of a circle of friends. As students mature, they prefer the kind of privacy and independence apartment living provides. Our waiting list tells us there is an unmet need for such housing, and Phase I of this project is our first step toward meeting that need."

The estimated $12 million for Phase I will be financed by floating a bond issue for that purpose. Annual debt service for the bond will be paid from the rents derived from operation of the facilities.

Students take part in planning

Detailed plans and architectural drawings for the new complex were shown to student groups over the past 10 days to spark conversations with students that will lead to refinements in the project. The information was presented to the Residence Hall Association Tuesday, Jan. 26, and the Western Student Association Feb. 3. The presidents of both organizations also were given a briefing on the project at the end of the fall semester.

The apartment complex will be the first undergraduate student housing built on WMU's west campus in nearly half a century. The residence halls in Goldsworth Valley were opened in 1963, 1964 and 1965.

Designs reminiscent of East Campus

The new complex will feature three-story buildings with two-color brick facades and a traditional look similar to WMU's East Campus. Parking for resident students will be included as part of the complex. The second phase of the project is scheduled for construction within the next four years and will add additional units to the Phase I site as well as new construction behind the Bernhard Center and Sangren Hall. Phase II will add more than 500 additional beds.

On-campus living

Student housing is part of the University's Division of Student Affairs. WMU operates 20 residence halls, five full-service dining facilities, six cash dining operations and three apartment complexes. A variety of living and dining options are available, including full room and board, room only, meal plan only, single and double rooms and academic-themed housing.

The University's system includes halls for men and women only as well as halls that are coed by floor or suite. Approximately 18 percent of students taking classes on the Kalamazoo campus opt to live on campus. About 92 percent of those living in campus residence halls are freshmen or sophomores. The residence hall capacity is just under 6,000.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400