LU builds residence halls

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There’s a cleared area behind ARC dorm on Longwood University’s campus, and university officials know just what to put there.

Not one, but two new residence halls.

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“When the Cunninghams came down, we had basically replaced the Cunninghams with 450 beds up at North Campus, Lancer Park,” explained Ken Copeland, Longwood’s vice president for administration and finance.

What they also had, however, was a desire to try to house as many lower-division students on campus as possible.

“So with the Cunninghams going away, we didn’t have enough beds with Wheeler, Cox, Stubbs, ARC and two high rises. We only had in those six halls … about 1,400 beds … plus or minus,” Copeland said.

Longwood is trending toward having 1,050 to 1,100 incoming freshmen, and simply couldn’t house all freshmen and sophomores on campus, Copeland said.

Enter the plan for the new residence halls, which will be the first such additions to the main campus since ARC

was added in 1991.

Originally, the university looked at a building that would parallel the ARC residence hall, which aligns on the west with Griffin Boulevard. But that design would have blocked the view shed of ARC and essentially stacked residence hall next to residence hall.

The decision, after consultation with many on campus, was to build two smaller buildings (with approximately 224 beds each) that would effectively house the same number as the one single residence hall, while creating a smaller community feel, Copeland said. The two smaller dorms will run perpendicular to ARC (one with its back running parallel to Vine Street and the other with its back parallel to Redford Street), creating a courtyard space between them, and will be designed to fit in with the other buildings on campus.

“So all of that materialized after the original conversation and the board’s approval to go ahead down this path,” Copeland said.

Longwood’s Real Estate Foundation has been involved in a lot of housing construction on campus, but this will be a first. The foundation is taking on a project on the main Longwood campus, though it is still deemed a state project (the property is owned by the state). Once the project is finished, Longwood has the authority to deed the property over to the foundation. The foundation will own the properties, but there is a reversion clause so that when the financing is paid off, the building and properties return to the state.

Other schools have utilized their foundations for similar projects.

The general contractor for the new Longwood residence halls is W.M. Jordan Co., whose main office is located in Richmond. If everything goes to schedule, the new residence halls would be available for students in the fall of 2016.

If it seems like there’s a lot of work going on campus, it’s because there is. Site work is continuing at the former location of the Cunninghams for a new university center, and the university is planning a student success center in a building that will straddle the entrance into the parking deck on Brock Commons.