More housing on the horizon at SDSU

By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register

Apartment building, townhomes planned for former location of SDSU family housing

BROOKINGS – South Dakota State University’s plans to build new housing options for upperclassmen and graduate students continues to progress after the university presented its plans to the South Dakota Board of Regents last month.

Submitting a facility program plan is a necessary step in gaining approval for the project, and thanks to the board’s approval, the university can begin to look for an architect to take on the project.

As currently envisioned, SDSU plans on building an apartment building three or four stories tall, as well as two-story townhouse units with a total of 56 beds.

Among the new buildings, there could be 190-232 beds. The final number of beds as well as room designs could vary depending on the eventual architects’ work.

“We’re in the process,” Michaela Willis, vice president of student affairs, said. “In January, we will be interviewing architect firms to (hire) for that project. Once that architect is selected, we will then get into the design phase and start to define how many beds will be in those townhouses.”

Expected to cost an estimated $20 million, $18 million in bonds for the project have already been issued, with another $2 million to come from revenue made by the university’s auxiliary system. The auxiliary system is a series of revenue-generating areas, not including tuition and fees; this does include such areas as residencial life, dining services, the Student Union and the Wellness Center.

Because of this funding structure, this project will not require approval from the state Legislature.

“Our goal is to be able to rent the apartments by the fall of 2019, but that might be aggressive – we’ll see as we pull things together,” Willis said.

According to the packet information submitted to the Board of Regents, expected features of the apartments would include off-street parking, in-unit laundries, computer networking and individually metered utilities. Parking isn’t part of the projects costs or included in current financing. There is adjacent parking that officials say can serve the apartments, but add that there will be a need to invest in parking for the townhouses.

Meant for the university’s juniors, seniors and graduate students, these buildings will be constructed on the southeast end of campus, along the south side of Eighth Street.

“Currently, we don’t really have housing for our upperclass students – junior, senior, graduate students – through the housing options we have available,” Willis said.

SDSU recently updated a marketing study on student housing demand in Brookings.

“Based on the study’s results, there is significant demand still for additional beds in the community for our students. That’s why it’s really important. We currently don’t meet that need, and we want to provide some options that are very proximate to campus for our students to opt into.”

The building sites would be located where State Court family housing and State Village are. The apartment-style building would be placed on the State Court site, and the townhouses would be situated at State Village, by the University Lutheran Center.

According to their numbers, even though overall enrollment at SDSU is down, there are still a large number of students who choose to live off campus. It’s hoped that these new structures would entice mainly those students to come back to campus rather than taking students from existing facilities.

State Village was closed earlier in 2017, removing 44 beds from the equation, with State Court (43 beds) to be removed in summer 2018. With a total of 87 beds taken out of the college system, university leaders expect the goal of 190-232 beds to be added with the new buildings to be manageable and in keeping with demand.

According to the Board of Regents packet, if the project doesn’t generate the interest officials anticipate, there are several options that they could take. They could decide to cease using Waneta Hall as a residence hall, eliminating 132 single units, with the students there moving to other housing options. Whether this would result in the demolition or repurposing of the hall has not yet been determined.

Tightening housing releases would yield an estimated 44 students, and making an adjustment of scholarship requirements for student athletes to live on campus would put 115 more students back into the overall residence hall system.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at esandbulte@brookingsregister.com.

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