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Facilities aims to add housing
Students could expect another residential building on the York Hill campus by fall 2015, according to administration.
The university hopes to add about 600 beds to the York Hill campus, according to Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Salvatore Filardi. The university is still developing the design plan, but Filardi said most of the beds will be for seniors.
Through surveys and focus groups with the Student Government Association and other groups, the facilities department has determined what would draw seniors back to campus.
“What’s always come up in the past is single bedrooms and air conditioning,” Filardi said. “Depending on the numbers and how things work out we may target things like housing built specifically for theme housing, wellness or some other type, honors program, or some other type of theme that might go into the housing.”
The new housing would be designed differently than other buildings on York Hill, Filardi said.
“We don’t want to just build another Crescent for example or even another Eastview, even though Eastview is very popular,” he said. “We want to make sure that we incorporate what current students are thinking as far as what they prefer to have for living arrangements to make sure that we address those.”
Junior Meaghan Joyce plans to live off campus next academic year.
“I would have lived on York Hill if the Eastview singles weren’t so small,” Joyce said. “There is really no other option and there are very few singles, but I feel like that is what everyone wants their senior year.”
Sophomore Jon Hammer and his friends already have a lease to rent a house live off campus for less money than room and board.
“We realized things like heating are more expensive, but honestly I don’t want to have to deal with the shuttle commute for York,” Hammer said.
Although Hammer liked the idea of having air conditioning in the new residence halls, he said the university would have to lower cafeteria food prices if he were to live on campus.
The cost of room and board for the new housing would be the same as other housing, according to Filardi.
“There’s only so much we can do around cost,” Filardi said. “So what are the issues that we can address, whether it’s single bedrooms or air conditioning or bigger kitchens or whatever it might be?”
Before York Hill was built seven years ago, the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission approved the university to build about 2,040 beds on the new campus, according to Filardi.
However, only about 1,500 beds were built due to cost, he said. By constructing about 600 more beds, the university would be back to the original number it proposed to build seven years ago.
Since the original plan has been revised to reflect the type of housing students want, the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission must re-approve the design before the university can put these ideas into action.
Filardi believes the commission will OK the plan.
“It’s already approved theoretically,” Filardi said. “It’s not going to be that much different than the type of housing that we showed earlier, but it’s going to be different enough that we think it’ll be an improvement over earlier designs.”
Previously the university had not worked to build additional residence halls because there are empty beds on campus.
“I think the town had always wished that we would build them all so we’re revisiting that,” Filardi said. “What we’d like to do is build new ones, fill those and attract enough students back [to campus] that we can fill some of the empty ones we have today.”
Currently, the two campuses have about 300 empty beds students could move into tomorrow, Filardi said, and 700 beds the university could fill if it had to.
“The 400-bed difference is really we kind of have a policy where we’ve been trying to improve the quality of life for student residents,” Filardi said. “Where we’ve had triples in the past, they were legal triples, but some of them we’ve turned back to doubles and [it] gives everybody a little more space.”
Filardi said building more beds will create a “trickle-down” effect.
“If we build more housing say targeted at seniors, the housing that the seniors are currently in is, we believe from a student perspective, is better than the housing that the juniors are in,” he said. “So it gives some diversity to the junior housing stock which then frees up potentially some of the junior housing for sophomores.”
With more housing, the university could potentially close off older buildings like Complex, Irma, Dana and Troup, for renovations for a semester or a year, Filardi said.
The facilities department is also studying the Mount Carmel campus to see if it could build more housing there, according to Filardi.
“There’s not a lot of opportunity on the Mount Carmel campus, so we looked around the parking area of the North Lot above Villages potentially at the eastern end of that,” he said. “Maybe another Mountainview kind of facility or something like that. It’s very preliminary.”