New housing options under development

When new USF students think about living on campus, so many flock to request Maple Hall’s double bedrooms and private bathrooms that many wind up being turned away.

Tom Kane, director of Residence Services, is working to change that and is now overseeing construction of Magnolia II. Kane hopes this residence hall will not only to attract more students to live on campus, but also meet the demand of students seeking a Maple-like atmosphere.

“(Maple has) only 230 beds and many do not get their first choice for housing,” Kane said.

Many students who wanted to live in the hall and listed it as their first choice were surprised when they didn’t get their second choice either. Daniel Vazquez was shocked to learn he was given his third choice.

“I really wanted to live there because of the setup,” Vazquez, a freshman, said. “But I was given my third choice, so I live in Delta. I don’t like it because it’s old, and any time someone flushes the toilet, the shower water gets scolding hot.”

Magnolia II, a $68-million construction project, began in the summer of 2007 and is expected to open in the fall of 2009. The new hall will house 1,000 students in two separate seven-story towers, Kane said.

The layout of the new hall will be similar to Maple, with two students to a room sharing a bathroom with another two students. Each bedroom will open up to a large common living area.

“We wanted each bedroom to open up around the living area, because students who have lived in Maple always express how much they enjoyed the common living space and we want to duplicate those feelings in Magnolia II, in order to create a community atmosphere within each floor,” Kane said.

Another unique aspect of the hall is a dining center in the middle of one of the towers, similar to the University of Florida’s dining hall.

“The design is comparable to the Fresh Food Company, in that it will feature many types of food, but it will be more efficient. The dining hall will be a large circle with the serving stations placed around it,” Kane said. “This will eliminate a lot of the going back and forth we see in Argos now.”

While many are excited about the construction of a new residence hall, some are less enthusiastic. Although construction is still in its early stages, senior Kristen Dicaprio, a Magnolia Apartments resident, said the noise is already loud and annoying.

“The noise starts at 7:30 a.m.,” Dicaprio said. “You have to put on music to block the noise out. You can hear the cranes, the beeping and the pounding all day. You can’t really have your window open because it’s annoying.”

Though the construction is close to other residence halls, Kane said the crews were trying to minimize disturbance to students.

“Progress is noisy,” he said. “Every complex we build is close to somewhere else, and we are trying to be as least intrusive as possible.”

Kane, recognizing construction noise to be a problem, however, said he is implementing the same construction strategies used in the Moffitt construction area located next to the patient facility.

“We are trying to be as quiet as possible with this type of work, but at this stage, we are doing pile-driving, a very noisy technique that involves cranes and some noise,” he said.

Beginning in fall 2009, incoming freshmen from outside the Tampa Bay area will be required to live on campus, thereby filling up available beds added by the new hall. There are currently 4,400 students living on campus, and after the completion of Magnolia II, there will be 5,400 beds on campus. Kane expects to see housing occupancy rise 500 students because of the new ordinance, which then leaves 500 spare beds.

“Once construction on Magnolia Hall is completed, we will have unoccupied beds, meaning we have the intent to close 500 beds in (the) Andros Complex and renovate them,” said Kane.

Since 1997, residence services has renovated Kosove, Castor, Beta, Maple and Cypress halls and built Holly and Magnolia Apartments while the Andros area has been somewhat neglected.

“We know Andros Complex needs a lot of work, but at the same time we needed to build and open Magnolia Hall in order to have the swing space to be able to close down part of Andros and begin to work on renovations without inconveniencing students,” Kane said.

By 2011, nearly half of the buildings in Andros should be renovated and reopened. Then the other halls will be closed, renovated and completed by 2013.

When Kane started at USF in 1997, there were 2,300 beds on campus. Since then, he has doubled that number. He said he’s excited to see “the massive growth on campus and hopes it contributes to a greater quality of living for students.”