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Campus housing plans in the works

On February 26, 2014

Updating student housing, improving pedestrian safety and encouraging national chains to move closer to campus are all part of the University of Toledo’s upcoming plans to improve campus.

Matt Schroeder, vice president of real estate and business development, said UT is currently partnered with American Campus Communities in an initiative to build a modern housing complex.

Schroeder said the dormitory, which will be financed by project-based funding, will house roughly 492 beds and be built on the land where Dowd, Nash and White halls used to stand.

“Our president, provost and board is not willing to go to Columbus and ask for additional tactile dollars or take on more debt,” Schroeder said during a Student Government meeting Feb. 18. “Due to the partnership with American Campus Communities and the Collegiate Housing Foundation at least for the first year or two, the housing will truly be 100 percent project based financing. The revenues of the project are pledged against the debt annually. The university has an extremely low profile on this.”

According to Schroeder, UT wants to offer more suite- style housing options.

“This project will take our on campus housing stock from almost a 50/50 split between traditional and suite- style living, to the majority being suite-style,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said that if everything goes as planned, the new building will be open by August 2015.

However, not everyone is excited about the upcoming housing changes.

SG Senator Ben Lynn said he feels it “segregates the campus in a way.”

“I feel by building a new dorm there and kind of moving around the offices for the history and philosophy departments and moving all the honor students over there, they are kind of segregating the campus in a way by putting all the people they want to succeed more or the people they are trying to push for the honors college and put them in our village - one happy campus,” Lynn said. “All the other incoming students are going to be on the other half, so I feel they are kind of segregating and it’s not really fair to all the students and conducive to a good learning environment.”

Lynn also said the costs of the new building are something to consider.

“I hear that it is supposed to be a private company and really expensive, so why are they trying to push for the honors college making people live there if the rates are going to be so expensive?” Lynn said.

According to Schroeder, students will also see upcoming renovations of the Campus Village Apartments, which Schroeder described as a “game changer.” He said they will be “scraped clean” and a common area pool will be added.

Some students are confident that the new housing complex will benefit both current students and future students.

Austin Serna, a second-year political science major, said he believes that the changes to housing will attract a new market of students that have yet to be reached.

“I am very ecstatic about the changes to housing,” Serna said. “It will bring in students not only from the greater area of Toledo, but also from all over the state of Ohio. It will also show more possibilities for people to stay on campus and get involved.”

Ian Michalak, a first-year political science major, said he believes the new dormitory will increase UT student morale.

“I think the new housing project will be exciting,” Michalak said. “We get a lot of complaints about housing, so new dorms will definitely improve student opinions.”

According to Schroeder, students and faculty can also anticipate seeing changes to the southwest intersection of Dorr and Secor this fall.

“In October of this year, you will see a pedestrian median going from Byrne Road all the way to Corpus Christi,” Schroeder said. “The focus will be pedestrian safety, specifically targeting UT students.”

Along with pedestrian medians, Schroeder said students can expect to see additional turn lanes and “Michigan U-turns,” where drivers who want to turn left must do so by making a U-turn and a right turn.

According to Schroeder, the transformation of the roads will reduce the number of both vehicular accidents, and vehicle-on-pedestrian accidents in an area considered to be dangerous.

Schroeder also discussed the university’s plans to bring national companies and restaurant chains closer to campus.

“Students have said that they would like to see a retail pharmacy, full service convenience store, and fast casual restaurants such as Chipotle and Qdoba,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said the university is now targeting national companies because he believes they better understand the student market.

“Before, we were focused on locally owned businesses,” Schroeder said. “Now we should get our focus on national tenants that target university towns and communities.”

Possible areas for such opportunities include the abandoned KFC restaurant and Wendy’s on Dorr Street.

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