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Will regents OK 3 new SDSU residence halls?

Modified: Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2009

This is an architect's concept of the new village-style residence halls planned for the South Dakota State University campus, pending Board of Regents approval. The halls, set in a triangular pattern , are to the west of Mathews (left), Grove and Brown halls, and adjacent to the Rotunda building. University Student Union is in the upper left corner of the illustration. Designers for the project are Treanor Architects P.A. of Kansas City, in conjunction with Koch Hazard Architects of Sioux Falls.

If plans are approved by the Board of Regents early next month, the South Dakota State University campus will see some dramatic changes over the next few years starting with a $22 million project that involves the construction of three new residence halls and improvements to the Mathews Hall dormitory.

The new halls would provide central-campus housing for more than 400 students.

According to Marysz Rames, SDSU vice president of student affairs, Phase I in a three-phase , five-year plan involves increasing the number of residence halls and dining service on campus.

If the project is given the go-ahead by the regents they're scheduled to consider final approval at their April 2-3 meeting it will involve the construction of a trio of new residence halls just off the campus green.

The actual physical location is the southern part of the campus, adjacent to the Rotunda building and just west of Brown, Grove and West residence halls. The new complex will be near University Student Union as well.

Rames said the SDSU Division of Student Affairs, with input from students and the university's physical plant, drafted the plan, then presented it to the Board of Regents last April.

The Board will review Phase I of the project next week and will approve or reject it then. Expectations are that the regents will OK the new construction

Rames said that with approval, bid specs on the project will go out shortly afterward, and planners hope to break ground on the project sometime this summer. Rames' student affairs team wants to open the doors of the new halls to students in the fall of 2010. Rames said the three new halls will be built for traditional undergraduate students that means freshmen and sophomore students will occupy the buildings.

She said the structures will be brick-faced , one a threestory building and the other two with four floors.

According to Rames, the planning group wanted to create a "village concept" on the south side of campus with the new buildings.

Each new hall will have its own look and feel, with different color schemes. Rames added that the housing will feature a boardinghouse style of living, with about 32 students per floor no more than two students per room and shared living areas with kitchenettes and laundry facilities . Plans call for a number of single-occupancy rooms. Environmentally friendly

Among the amenities featured in the residential complex would be integrated recycling services. It would also feature advanced environmental and energy design, making the campus structures the first of their kind in South Dakota. Rames said unique features in the new halls would include fireplaces, sliding glass doors, a patio area, smaller living communities per floor and bathrooms with built-in vanity features for each student.

"This is not a Caldwell or a Brown (Hall)," said Rames. "This is a new kind of configuration that definitely meets the needs of today's student."

The buildings will house a total of 408 students, and those who choose to live in them will also have to pay a bit more for their stay at the university .

"We are planning to offer differential rates," said Rames. "Students can choose to live in (existing halls) for less than what they will pay for the new ones. They will have options depending on what they want to pay for," Rames said. "Some will be excited about the new amenities, and some will not." About $2,000 per semester

Students currently pay about $1,400 per semester to live in the existing residence halls on campus. According to Rames, the room fee for the new buildings will be closer to $2,000 per semester.

And student rent is exactly what makes building the new halls possible, Rames said. Money to fund the $22 million project (which includes improvements to Mathews Hall) comes from bonds approved by the Board of Regents. Student room fees are applied to pay off the indebtedness . Rames explained that all residence halls for state schools must pay their own way no taxpayer funds are used and all new residential construction or improvements are financed through bonding. More upperclass housing

Rames said that the new halls would address more than just the need for additional student housing on campus.

"There is a need now for student housing," she said, "and projections for enrollment show more growth each year. We will need more residence halls to accommodate new students as the numbers get bigger."

But Rames added that building the new halls for traditional , younger students would also free up space in the existing halls for more junior , senior and transfer students . The university is currently providing some space for older and transfer students. But with the new halls, Rames said older buildings could be reconfigured to provide for more.

Rames said that, of the approximately 12,000 students currently enrolled at SDSU, 9,000 of those students are taking classes on the Brookings campus. Of those 9,000 students , 3,600 are currently living on campus, the population divided among eight residence halls, the Berg and Bailey apartments and family-student housing. Size not yet set

According to Rames, total square footage of the new buildings has yet to be determined until organizers are closer to the final stages of planning Phase I, and after it gets regent approval.

Parking problems created by the increased student numbers on campus are slated to improve, Rames said. Additional parking slots will be added by reconfiguring the parking areas that already exist.

"A lot of the parking that exists on campus already is separated by rows of additional concrete. We plan to combine some of the smaller parking areas into one larger lot, which will add enough slots to accommodate additional students on the southeast side of campus."

Along with residence hall expansion goes dining service expansion, Rames said. With the addition of the new halls, organizers have proposed a dining service expansion for University Student Union, which would include two new food service sites.

The union would expand to the north and west, said Rames, to accommodate the new facilities. 2005 renovation

The union got a $9.6 million makeover in 2005 that more than quadrupled its space. The facility was built in 1971 when student enrollment was about 5,000. The renovation added more than 40,000 square feet to its original 11,000-square-foot plan. One of the new services planned is an upscale, burger /sports-type motif dining area that would feature Jackrabbit paraphernalia.

Though a recent story in SDSU's student newspaper, The Collegian, said that the new establishment would resemble a sports bar, Rames said the organizing group has no intention of creating a site where students will be served alcohol. The new space will more closely be modeled after a sit-down eating establishment .

According to Rames, the dining service expansion will be paid for with contributions and money currently collected from students on food service plans. No price hikes for students

Rames added that there won't be any increase in what students now pay for food because of the expansions.

Future developments in the five-year plan include residence hall additions for upperclass and graduate students on the northwest corner of campus , said Rames.

"These projects are closely linked to student needs," said Rames. "They are also linked to where we see ourselves going as a campus to meet our own needs. We are excited by the opportunity to move forward ."

Contact Amanda Palluck at apalluck @brookingsregister.com.

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