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Monday, October 20, 2008

SU Announces Plans for New Residence Hall

SALISBURY, MD---For the first time since 1990, Salisbury University is planning a new residence hall on its main campus.  This week the University released a Request For Proposal (RFP) published on Maryland Marketplace as well as the SU Web site to build an approximately 600-bed residence hall and commercial complex on what is currently the Allenwood Shopping Center. An adjacent University lot currently used for Motor Pool parking will also be available to the developer.  Plans call for the new residence hall, which would serve upperclass-men and women, to open by summer 2011—the same year as the new home for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business.

The “Main Street” style mixed-use development would have commercial retail space on the ground level, with apartment units above.  According to Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, vice president of student affairs, it would be similar to a successful student housing project at Johns Hopkins University mixing commercial and residential spaces.

Like the University Park complex bordering SU’s East Campus, the new residence hall would be a public-private partnership, built and operated by a private developer on land leased from the University.  Although the University’s Residence Life Office would oversee the residence life aspects of the new facility, the apartments and the retail space would be operated and managed by the developer.

According to Neufeldt, the new project will numerically place SU in an enviable spot for on-campus housing.  Currently, SU has 10 campus residence halls with 1,730 beds accommodating approximately 25 percent of its undergraduates.  University Park, the University’s only public-private partnership to date and a few blocks away from Allenwood across Route 13, provides an additional 888 beds.  With some 600 beds at Allenwood, the University would house 40 percent of its undergraduates, she said, a healthy percentage nationally. 

Students have been heavily involved in planning for the new complex.  In a student life survey to which over 1,000 students responded, they indicated a desire for more housing on main campus and a need for upperclassman housing.  The majority of SU’s residence halls, some 1,100 units, are currently occupied by freshmen.   Neufeldt said the apartment-style units which upperclassmen seek are in short supply at SU. She believes that the added beds at Allenwood will lessen the pressure for student rentals in nearby neighborhoods.

She is also hopeful that the commercial space will appeal to both students and area residents attracting retail outlets like a coffee house, book store, restaurants and other eateries. Currently three businesses—two restaurants and a pizza delivery—occupy about half the space in the center.  Greig Mitchell, vice president of administration and finance, said there is the possibility those businesses might return after construction, if they wanted.  Such decisions, however, would be negotiated with the developer, he added.

Mitchell said the new project, which will anchor the southeast corner of main campus, would need to be architecturally pleasing and compatible with the adjacent campus.  The facility would be prominent along Route 13, along with the new Perdue School building and the recently opened Teacher Education and Technology Center.

Interested developers will be invited to campus at the end of October to ask questions and to tour the site. The University will request Maryland Board of Public Works authorization to purchase the shopping center from the SU Foundation, its current owner, early next year.  Construction is expected to begin sometime after July 2009.  The up to $45 million housing portion of the project already has approval from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

For more information visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu or call 410-543-6030.



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