CMU board votes for new residence hall

Another residence hall is coming to Colorado Mesa University.

Colorado Mesa trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to direct university staff to proceed with plans to seek an architect to design a new residence hall. The new hall will be built south of Garfield Hall and west of Escalante Hall, which is under construction and was formerly called Academic Classroom Building 2.

Scheduled to open in July 2015, this will be the fourth residence hall built on the campus in five years.

Eleven residence halls or apartment complexes dot the Colorado Mesa campus, providing housing for up to 2,247 students, mostly freshmen and sophomores. A study by Maryland-based research firm Anderson Strickler found 492 students who live off campus would “definitely” be interested in living on campus if their preferred residence hall had space available, while 1,264 said they “might be interested.” Given the likelihood that not every student would follow through with their interest, the research firm estimated there may be demand for 562 additional residence hall beds.

Colorado Mesa Vice President for Student Services John Marshall said a 71 percent increase in the number of students coming to Colorado Mesa from outside Mesa County has increased demand for campus housing. While more than half of existing students Anderson Strickler expects to show interest in moving onto campus picked a single bedroom as their top choice, Marshall said he has found student retention is best when new students pick a double-occupancy room because they are more likely to build relationships at college.

“They’re terrified to get into a double room because they’ve never done it,” Marshall said. “The reality is they’re going to meet more people outside of a single, where they tend to hole up.”

While the new residence hall will almost certainly have double-occupancy rooms, Marshall said the university could appease other students by, for example, making the mixed two-bed and single-bed suites in the Orchard Avenue Apartments available only to 21 and older students.

Colorado Mesa Vice President of Finance Pat Doyle said the design for the new hall will likely mimic double-occupancy rooms in Monument Hall that share a bathroom for each two rooms. If that design goes forward, he estimated it will cost $12 million to complete the project, although he said the price would likely come down if the school opted for double-occupancy rooms like those in Garfield Hall, which do not split a bathroom between four people.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, trustees voted to have the university request proposals from architects and construction managers for an expansion project at the Hamilton Recreation Center. A finance plan for the project will be approved at the trustees’ next meeting in January and construction will likely be complete by the end of 2014.


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