Curators look at $282M plan to revamp residence halls

The MU Department of Residential Life presented its master plan to members of the UM system Board of Curators at their meeting Thursday. If approved, the Residential Life Master Plan would give MU's residence halls a $282 million facelift during the next 15 years.

The curators are scheduled to vote on the plan at their next meeting scheduled for Jan. 19.

"Clearly UMC's on an up swing," curator John Mathes said. "This is something we need to tackle right now while we're going the right direction."

Students would foot the bill for the project. According to the proposal, housing fees would increase by 1 percent more than the inflation rate every year during the 15-year project. Once a building is completed, there would be a one-time 15 percent increase for residents of the building and a 20 percent increase for newly constructed buildings.

The Department of Residential Life receives no funding from MU or the state. All revenues are raised through student-housing fees.

"As long as (costs) are not getting out of sight, it's not going to be a problem," Mathes said. "One way or another, people have to pay."

The plan calls to replace, renovate or upgrade every bed in the campus-housing system. According to the plan, housing for 1,650 students — about seven residence halls — would be demolished. New residence halls would be built to house about 2,800 students, and the capacity of existing halls would be reduced by approximately 150 beds.

When the project is complete, the halls could house 1,000 more students than the buildings that are standing today.

"I think it's something that needs to be done," curator Paul Combs said. "I applaud efforts to get it off the ground."

Many of the curators expressed an interest in being presented with alternative options, or reasons why alternative options are not feasible at the January meeting.

About 30 percent of the undergraduate population, or 5,500 students, live on campus, according to the proposal. Officials cited living-learning communities, freshman interest groups, sponsored learning communities and residential colleges as examples of successful programs in the residence halls, despite inadequate facilities.

Consultants speaking on behalf of the Department of Residential Life said these successful programs, considered with the fact that the existing halls are near capacity and not meeting prospective students' expectations, are why MU should renovate and rebuild existing residence halls.

"Clearly, the quality of the facilities make an impact on whether the students decide to come here or not," Mathes said.

Hired consultants and MU administrators emphasized that the plan is not set in stone. It is merely a guide to help everyone see the big picture in such a huge undertaking.

"As with any 15-year plan, there had darn well better be built into it substantial flexibility," Chancellor Richard Wallace said.

Wallace said student enrollment and interest rates could affect the plans for the project.

"I'd emphasize, we make the decisions one at a time," he said.

Phase No. 1: $55.3 million

  • Set to begin in January

  • New residence halls and a dining hall at Virginia Field, south of the Rollins group on the site of the existing tennis courts

  • Donnelly, Smith and Blair halls would be demolished

  • Limited renovations would be made to Jones, Lathrop and Laws halls

  • Mark Twain, Cramer, Defoe, Graham, Stafford, Schurz, Hatch, Hudson, Gillett, Johnston and Wolpers halls would share $10.2 million for repairs

  • Phase No. 1 would cost $55.3 million and would increase the bed count from 5,482 to 5,722

Phase No. 2: $71.1 million

  • Set to begin in fall 2005

  • Construct 640 new beds at the former site of Smith and Donnelly halls

  • Construct 240 new beds north of Schurz and Hatch halls

  • Build a pedestrian overpass at College Avenue connecting the Bingham group to the Virginia Field dining facility

  • Demolish Baker-Park and Gardner-Hyde halls and replace them with 240 new beds

  • Total renovation of Hatch Hall

  • Begin renovations of Schurz and Graham halls

  • Phase No. 2 would cost $71.1 million and would increase the bed count to 5,852

Phase No. 3: $55.8 million

  • Set to begin in fall 2008

  • No new construction

  • Complete renovations to Schurz and Graham halls

  • Total renovation of Defoe Hall

  • Upgrade of all systems, including electrical and plumbing, to Hudson and Gillett halls

  • Begin renovations at Stafford and Cramer halls

  • Phase No. 3 would cost $55.8 million and would increase the bed count to 6,199

Phase No. 4: $99.6 million

  • Set to begin in fall 2011

  • Demolish Jones, Lathrop and Laws halls and construct 560 new beds in their place

  • Limited renovations at Johnston, Wolpers and Mark Twain halls

  • Allows for the construction of 400 new beds at the Mark Twain and Conley areas

  • Phase No. 4 would cost $99.6 million and would raise the final bed count to 6,496

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