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MSU plans to build new apartments near campus

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Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 12:00 am

In the last seven years, Missouri State has not only changed its name, but residential life surrounding the campus.

The removal of the Dogwood Apartments, the dorm renovations and the new Foster Recreation Center are just some of the projects the university has been working on. Now, another project is in the works. Students can expect to see brand new apartment-style living on Walnut Street.

Even though it has yet to be named, the expectations for the new housing are high and Gary Stewart, director of residence life and services, is not only enthusiastic about it, but ready to start the project, he said.

“We’re getting closer and closer to it becoming a reality,” Stewart said.

This reality will be an apartment-style living complex on Walnut Street behind Kentwood. It will include 295 beds, with 114 individual apartments and the other rooms for two or four people.

The suites will include a private bedroom for each resident. The complex will include amenities such as fully furnished rooms, study lounges, Wi-Fi, indoor bike storage, a top-of-the-line kitchen on the main floor and access to the courtyard and businesses such as a bookstore and Einstein Bros. Bagels.

Paige Jenkins, the student member of the MSU Board of Governors, said the exterior will look great.

“They took samples of the

surrounding buildings on Walnut so they can match the feel and the architecture together,” Jenkins said. “I really appreciate the thought they’ve put into this.”

Stewart said there are numerous benefits to the new housing. While students will be able to have the apartment feel, they will also have security. The fire department, hospital and police department will know the layout of the buildings and security patrol will be done on the property.

“There are a lot of intangibles that a lot of folks aren’t even going to think about,” Stewart said.

In addition, the Bearline will make a stop in front of the housing and if students do not want to cook, the dinning hall is available in Kentwood.

Earle Doman, vice president of student affairs, said the biggest benefit to the housing is that it’s tied to the university.

“You’ll have a lot of the amenities and advantages of living on campus but have essentially an apartment complex that is far enough removed from the main part of campus, but still part of it,” Doman said. “We were to view this as a transition to our downtown area.”

The university, and Stewart, hope students will become part of the Walnut and downtown community.

The whole project is expected to be done in Fall of 2013 and will cost $36 million, according to Stewart. This total does not include the land purchase because the location is already property where the old Kentwood South used to stand.

Stewart said it is well worth the money, and he wants students to feel and be treated like adults in the new housing. With this in mind, there are some things that Stewart is pushing which have yet to be decided on.

One is for the housing to be upperclassmen only so the grounds may allow alcohol.

Karolina Kosinska, a sophomore biology major, said she agrees with an upperclassman housing plan.

“I think it would provide a more safe and controlled environment for them to have those experiences,” Kosinska said. “It would be a nice transition.”

The complex will have less staffing and be without the RAs and rules of residence halls.

There will be guidelines for the alcohol though, and the definition of an upperclassmen — age versus year in school — is still to be determined.

However, there are other changes students on campus will see in the upcoming year. By next year, both Garst and Blair-Shannon dining halls will have been remodeled, allowing more seating and a bathroom in Blair-Shannon. Also, Sunvilla might see some considerable changes in the future.

Recently, a group of consultants viewed Sunvilla, which was made in the late ’60s, to give an opinion on what to do with the building. The building is very old and does not meet many codes to the extent that the stoves were taken out for safety, Stewart said. The old apartment-style housing could be completely remodeled, changed to some classrooms or completely torn down. A decision will be made this summer, and demolition could cost $1 million.

One of the problems with getting rid of Sunvilla, as Doman said, is some of the university’s equipment is placed at the top of the building. A demolition would cause the question of where to relocate it. Regardless, the next two years will bring a lot of change for students on campus.

“I think all of this is reflective of us changing and genuinely becoming Missouri State,” Doman said. “We are no longer a regional institution. We are a major university, and I think you are seeing us excel in the academic front and the student life front. I hope that’s what people want and expect us to be.”

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