The Ledger

Making sense of money, 2010

Central Connecticut State University Looking to Upgrade

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Final Blog Post

Central Connecticut State University is looking at some fairly hefty upgrades within the next few years.

These upgrades, which can be found on a list of projects priced at over $500 thousand on Central’s website, include entire projects that are going to take years to finish. But the time and money being put into them should hopefully even out in the long run, and not allow for much loss of funds.

The focus for this, however, is specifically on the residence halls of Central. Some of the halls are better equipped for living than others. Not to say that select halls are unlivable – they’re not, by any means – it’s just that larger halls, like Gallaudet and Sheridan, are more “luxurious” than smaller halls, like Seth North and Carroll, in that they have newer furniture and the like.

But because many students, myself included, consider the campus their home away from home, the higher-ups are looking to upgrade those smaller halls. But perhaps more important than those upgrades, the biggest project of them all is a brand new residence hall that is looking to house over 600 students.

A 3D model of the new hall, located next to the Student Center parking lot.

The project isn’t going to be only a few million dollars. I know, “only a few million” is, in reality, a lot of money. The new residence hall’s projected cost, however, dwarfs a few million, coming in at an estimated $82 million for a building of 220 thousand square feet.

In comparison to previous years, that’s a lot, for lack of a better phrase. Based on the 20th Annual Residence Hall Construction Report, which recorded the 2008-2009 academic year,  from the American School & University, the $82 million for 220 thousand square feet is almost $50 million more than the average residence hall around the nation (Check out the table below).

Variable Median Average
Cost ($ millions) $8.5 $13.5
Size (Sq. Ft.) 60,000 80,627
Residents 242 279
Cost/Sq. Ft. $142 $167
Sq. Ft./Resident 248 289
Cost/Resident $35,124 $48,387

 

Even with that amazing amount of cash potentially going into the project, Jean Alicandro, Director of Residence Life at Central, talked about the new hall, which is currently unnamed, with high hopes:

“Several years into being filled to capacity, the building should probably pay for itself. And I’m sure that will be in under ten years. It will also create positive public relations with prospective students and their parents due to the fact that at this point in time, we have a waiting list for housing students. Because we use every space possible on campus, we’re hoping that a new residence hall will change this.”

This hall will have a huge impact on Central financially. While the hall should pay itself off, other factors come into play when examining the situation, such as more staffing and faculty members, more parking issues for students, and meal plans and extra dining areas.

“We’ll be taking on as many as 30 more resident assistants, possibly two new resident directors, and potentially another clerical support in the office to manage all of the backroom operations for things like billing,” Alicandro said.

However, the new hall will also effect New Britain as a whole. But when it comes to that area, Alicandro also feels that the new hall could be saving the town’s resources and money in the long run as well, saying that it plays out to more than just a money issue, and becoming more an action of goodwill. By putting students back on campus and possibly out of houses in neighborhoods, it leaves disciplinary sanctions up to the trained university resources, rather than New Britain’s.

The new building’s impact brings us back to the smaller projects, like renovating older buildings to upgrade their utilities. While some student residents are excited to hear about the plans for a new building, there is a catch: The older buildings will be temporarily closed once the new hall opens, and future students will live there until the other upgrades are finished. And again, this could take years, with some project’s costs up to $13 million in renovations. So the idea of the costs weighing themselves out seems, to me, a stretch. But my forte is definitely not in financial areas, so I’ll leave that guessing to the experts.

Still, there is reason to be optimistic about new buildings even if it means something as simple as never living in them.

Michael Torelli, a first semester senior who has lived in the smallest building on campus, Seth North, for his entire college career, is happy to see the campus finally changing.

“It just shows that the university has the money to spend on upgrades,” Torelli said. “I never thought that a building the size of some of UConn’s would be here at Central. And even though I’ll probably never step foot in there, it’s still good to see that the money that Central makes is going toward something more useful than a football field.”

While I could not agree more about the football field comment, it shows that some students might question where Central puts its money. That is a story for another time, however.

I suppose that when it boils down to the cost efficiency of building a new hall and making renovations to old ones, time will be the only deciding factor in weighing the benefits. It’s safe to say, however, that it’s going to put a big dent in Central’s wallet. And that’s not taking into account the simple idea that any project could be halted if more money is needed than originally intended – which actually happened with previous building renovations. Again, another story for another time.

But, it’s probably a good thing I won’t be here next year at this time to see what could go wrong. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that nothing does, though.

-Zach Perras-Duenas-

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Written by ccsu236

December 10, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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