By Katie Garwood | email@example.comBy
In an effort to keep more students living on campus, plans for a new 150-bed residence hall are in the works and tentatively slated for fall 2017.
According to Vice President of Student Services Daniel Stewart, the new residence hall will be built on what is currently the FEC dirt parking lot. However, this won’t mean a loss of parking. As plans for the building now include a parking garage and a number of other amenities.
“Right now, we are talking some sort of grill, lounge-type thing to have more food available down on that end of campus, some type of fitness center, study areas, group rooms students can meet in, and we’d like to have a security presence in that building so that we can basically cover the whole complex down there,” said Stewart.
The new residence hall will serve juniors and seniors primarily, keeping freshmen closer to the main part of campus. The FEC towers will continue to house mostly sophomores, juniors and seniors.
As far as what the new residence hall will look like, nothing is certain yet, Stewart said. However, he said it is estimated to cost $12 million.
“We actually went to seven different architects and got seven very different iterations of what they think it should look like. I can’t say what architect we’re going with, because that’s a decision made by the board of trustees. But part of our request for proposals for the architects was we wanted to tie in with the structure of the FEC towers, nicely along with the corridor coming down King Street and along U.S. 1 because it’s going to be a major building that sits there,” said Stewart.
St. Augustine’s stringent building requirements also can make completing a new building a tough order.
“The city is really looking at trying to make that entrance corridor meet their ideas of what an entrance corridor coming into the city should look like,” Stewart said. “It’s a challenge.”
Stewart said one of the main reasons for building a new residence hall is to allow more upperclassmen to live on campus. Right now, approximately 1,009 students live on campus.
Student Government President Donn Garby said he thinks living on campus has many benefits and can enhance students’ college experience.
“I am a strong believer that when students live on campus they are more infused with the community,” Garby said. “I believe that when students are in closer proximity to campus they are more likely to take advantage of all the opportunities granted by the campus like social events, co-curricular programs, athletic matches and other campus events. Living close to campus also helps build community with other students, faculty and staff, making our campus a tighter-knit community.”
Freshman Barbaraliz Ortiz said she would definitely consider living in the new residence hall in coming years, and would be more likely to do so if meals were available there.
“People in FEC have to walk over to Ponce just to eat,” Ortiz said. “It wouldn’t make sense to have another building out there where people would still have to walk to Ponce to eat as well.”
Although a new residence hall is first on the list of projects for the school to complete, there are others in the waiting.
“One of the pressing needs that we have at this point is we need science labs, so we’re looking at a variety of things there, but [the residence hall] is kind of the top priority right now,” Stewart said.