USF to build 1,000-bed hall

One tall building holding 1,000 beds: That is the plan for USF’s new residence hall. The building, called Magnolia II, will cost the University $60 million.

“It will be the biggest building we have in housing for sure,” said Tom Kane, director of Residence Services.

The building will contain a dining hall and is expected to be five to eight stories high. In comparison, Holly contains 700 beds.

The current student housing arrangement consists of many buildings with approximately 100 to 150 beds each. These buildings are spread out and consume a large amount of space.

“We’re running out of land. We can’t keep building one-, two-, three-story buildings and taking big footprints,” Kane said.

The new arrangement will save space by consisting of only one building that is very tall rather than many short buildings spread across campus.

“It may have two towers, but it’ll be one front door for a thousand beds,” Kane said.

Magnolia II will be located in parking lot 24, just north of Magnolia I. The building will take up half of the lot. A parking garage, planned for May, will add parking spots to compensate for the spots lost by Magnolia II’s construction. The University has a master plan in place to further address the issue of parking.

“During this particular time, we are just starting to talk with contractors who are interested in this. The intent is that this would open in August 2008,” Kane said.

University Housing discussed the future possibility of placing another tall residence hall where Andros Center is and tearing down the residence halls – such as Theta and Eta – around it.

University Housing hired two consulting firms to take a look at Andros, and within the next few months the firms will help determine whether to tear the area down or renovate it.

Renovation would give the halls at least 2,000 to 2,500 beds in the same space where there are 1,100 beds now. However, Kane is resistant to the idea due to parking issues that would likely arise.

Kane also mentioned the possibility of tearing down the buildings surrounding Andros and constructing a new hall that contains the same amount of beds but has a much smaller footprint, which would free up space that could be used for recreation.

“If we tore out 1,100 beds and built a thousand there, that would leave us with some nice green space for putting some recreation space for people to go out there in play in,” Kane said.

As they will be here the longest, freshmen will be most affected by the plans. Upon hearing about the new tower, opinions were mixed.

“It’s fine by me,” freshman engineering major TJ Farrell said. “Nowadays, they have engineering stuff and they make it all spectacular.”

Farrell said he would like to see more parking lots in that extra space and maybe a park to relax in.

“I think that will be really annoying,” freshman Jennifer Holman said in reference to the planned construction.

She is concerned with the issue of foot traffic on the elevators. However, she agrees with renovating Andros.

“It’s disgustingly old – actually, the carpets are kind of moldy. Maybe a new building wouldn’t be that bad, but I don’t know about eight stories,” Holman said.

University Housing hopes to not make the building higher than seven stories, according to Kane.

“I’m sure they’ll make it look nice, but I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think they’re going to be able to fill it all up,” freshman Crystal Bissada said. She, too, expressed her concerns about sewage backups and mold in the carpet in Andros.