Two new residence buildings

Two new buildings have been leased by Laurier residential services, one that holds 82 students at 325 Spruce Street and one with 385 students at 340 Spruce Street.

The buildings were purchased to accommodate the increase in students who have been promised residence rooms for the 2009-10 academic year.

“While we’ve got a problem, it’s a more manageable problem. The kids who will be in the new buildings will just love it. They’re brand new and very spacious,” said director of residential services Mike Belanger.

“Looking at it from a distance point of view, its only a five to seven minute walk to campus. It might be only marginally further than University Place [residence] to the centre of campus.”

The new buildings will be priced comparably to Laurier’s high-end accommodations such as King Street Residence, which costs $5,966 for a single room.

The university will be taking occupancy on August 15 and has signed a 20 and a half-month lease on the two buildings.

According to Belanger, however, Laurier only wants the buildings for the eight months first-year students are in school.

“The people who own these places wanted a long term lease, but we didn’t want that. We’re looking into other solutions,” said Belanger.

“We will hope that there will be some new building going up, so we can do the same kind of leasing arrangement again for the new number [of we will need.”

The conditions for Laurier to pull out of the lease after the end of April require the university to give the owner of the building the equivalent number of students to continue living in the residence for their second year.

“It will be a bit of a marketing campaign beginning in October/November,” said Belanger. “But we don’t think we will have much trouble filling them.”

Belanger says that the rent for students continuing to reside after their residence contract is fulfilled will be comparable with the competitive high-end student housing in the city.

Students will also be able to lease single or double rooms and will not have to fill an entire unit.

The owners of the building have the intention of putting a restaurant and bar on the ground level of the larger building, but it will not begin construction until after Laurier is out of the lease, as Belanger feels it would be too hard to control with first-years living in the building.

In order to maintain the same level of quality and experience for first-years, a number of things are being done to deal with the increasing numbers.

“We added a new co-ordinator this year, along with more dons to make sure that the experience stays the same,” said Chris Dodd, manager of housing services and residence life.

“If we can keep our staff ratio the same, we expect to be able to deliver the same level of service.”

Last year, there was a similar problem, as there were also too many students for the amount of beds available in residences.

When this happens, the university does have some room to adjust internally by converting large single rooms into doubles and pushing senior, graduate and international students farther from campus to make more room for first-years.

This year, residence life will not offer students bunk beds in Bricker residence, which was one of the solutions for the problem last year.