Residence hall breaks ground at St. Pete

Students of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus will soon have beds to come home to on campus. Scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2006, a 354-bed complex will feature apartment-style living for students while carrying a price tag of $18.3 million. The official groundbreaking took place Wednesday.

“The character of the campus is going to change dramatically,” Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Mark Durand said. “Currently all of our students are commuter students and this will provide a residential atmosphere we have never had before.”

According to a press release, the groundbreaking, attended by USF President Judy Genshaft, Regional Chancellor Karen White and St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker, took place on the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Second Street, next to USF St. Pete’s welcome center.

The new residence halls will be located two blocks from most of the campus classrooms and three blocks from the water, giving the upper floors of the seven-story building a view of the Bay.

“It is actually prime real estate,” Durand said. “If it were across the street in a private condo, it would go for upwards of a million dollars.”

As for amenities, Residence Hall One, which is its official name at the moment, appears to follow a similar layout as Tampa campus’s Holly Apartments — four private rooms, two bathrooms per suite and a kitchen. New features that Holly does not have include a study lounge and laundry room on each floor.

“We are doing a lot of planning for putting Resident Assistants in the building, and there is some discussion about potentially faculty in residence having courses offered inside the building, so the students feel connected to the academic part of the campus,” Durand said. “We are in the middle now of hiring a new director of student life and we should be hiring somebody in the next couple of months.”

Durand said this new addition will increase campus use as well as activities offered on campus.

“Students will be able to be more engaged in activities, not only recreational activities, but in research and in academic activities as well, because they won’t be leaving to fight traffic to go somewhere else.” Durand said.

There is no restriction on who is able to live in the residence hall. White said if the first hall fills up quickly, they would go ahead with plans to build additional units.

“I think that some students will be attracted to our campus because we have small classes, we offer a lot of individual attention to students, the residence halls will be new and therefore very attractive to some students — I think students will be attracted to USF St. Pete based on our (program) offerings, not just a set of physical circumstances,” White said.

Residence halls are not the only construction planned for the St. Pete campus over the next few years.

“We are in the middle of a major planning stage right now,” Durand said. “We are building a parking garage, which we hope to be breaking ground in the near future on that, and it will also have a Barnes and Noble, so there will be more things available.”

As for price per student, White said the prices would be comparable to Tampa’s projected pricing for the fall of 2006.