UW-Rock could get dorm

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

— A consultant is recommending a residence hall be built on the UW-Rock County campus.

Dean Carmen Wilson said students could start living there as soon as fall 2014.

Wilson spoke to The Gazette on Monday and was positive about the chance that a residence hall would be built.

A residence hall would make UW-Rock a 24/7 campus, a "dramatic change in culture," Wilson said. It also could diversify the student body by attracting foreign students.

Approval by the county board likely would be needed. The county owns the campus land and existing buildings, and a residence hall developer likely would lease land from the county, Wilson said.

The location of the 120-student capacity building has not been determined, but Wilson said the most likely spots are near the south and west sides of the campus buildings.

The consultant, the Danter Co. of Columbus, Ohio, studied the local rental market and concluded a residence hall would be feasible.

The consultant recommends fully furnished two-bedroom and four-bedroom suites.

Each suite would house all men or all women, but there would be no segregation by floor, Wilson said. A residence staff would be an ongoing expense.

The consultant estimated per-student rents would average $500 a month in the four-bedroom suites or $575 for two-room suites. Depending on amenities, some rents would be more and some "considerably less," according to the consultant's study.

Rent would cover all utilities, including Internet access.

The consultant estimated more than 200 students are paying similar or higher rents at private apartments.

The consultant is recommending things that many university dormitories don't have, including a private bathroom for each bedroom, full kitchen, dishwasher and possibly a washer and dryer for each suite.

Also proposed are a small fitness center, game room and study center.

The study recommends the hall be connected to the rest of the campus buildings, but Wilson said that's not a given.

Residence halls at the UW System's two-year colleges are something of a trend. Wilson said nearly half of the 13 colleges have residence halls or are planning them.

There has been no pressure from the UW System to do this, but each campus has decided it's a good idea, Wilson said.

One reason is the potential to bring in foreign students. Wilson said UW-Rock has had requests from international students, but the campus has no place to house them.

A new agreement that would allow out-of-state students to pay less than out-of-state tuition also could bring in students from Illinois, Wilson said.

Many students choose UW-Rock because they can live at home and save on rent, Wilson acknowledged, but many others rent. With a capacity of 120, the residence hall could house about 13 percent of the current 889 full-time students.

Part-time students typically are not attracted to student housing, according to the study.

The project would be paid for entirely with student rent, Wilson said. UW-Rock would seek to recover its costs and not make a profit.

The building could be built and managed by a private company, or UW-Rock could lease the building from the builder, and after 30 years, the building would become Rock County property, Wilson said.

If 2014 is not feasible, then the opening would be delayed to the fall 2015 semester, Wilson said.

Wilson said in October that off-campus sites would be considered, but the consultant recommends on-campus housing only.

As part of the consultant's study, about 1,300 UW-Rock students were asked to participate in a survey, and 346 did so. Of those, 23.7 percent said they are renters, while another 13 percent pay "some rent."

The next step is to hold forums for staff and students to discuss the project, Wilson said. A request for proposals could go out to developers as soon as spring.

There's still a chance the project would be canceled, Wilson said, "but the feedback I've received thus far is wholly positive."

Last updated: 8:05 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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