by jamesc 3/13/2014 4:25:37 PM --
NORFOLK - Northeast Community College will proceed with plans to address an on-going student housing shortage on its Norfolk campus. At a meeting of the College Board of Governors Thursday, it was announced that Northeast will construct a new residence hall near two existing residence halls and two student apartments.
Last fall, the Board gave Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, authority to negotiate a public-private partnership to finance the project. “We have been looking at options to finance our pressing on-campus housing issues,” Chipps said. “After a careful study of the public-private model, including discussions with potential local investors, we have come to the conclusion that it is not financially viable to apply this concept to this particular project. Our thorough research has enabled us to realize that it will be more cost effective for the College to issue revenue bonds to build a new residence hall.”
Chipps stated that the Norfolk campus has had a pressing on-campus housing shortage for a number of years and now is the best time in the College’s history to increase capacity. For example, at the start of the fall 2013 semester, over 715 students applied for 350 beds that currently occupy Northeast’s two dormitories, Simon and Burkhardt Halls, and the two student apartments.
“The College plans to complete selection processes for an architect and for a construction manager at risk,” said Lynne Koski, vice president of administrative services. She said plans call for an $11 million, 79,000 square foot residence hall which will be able to accommodate approximately 200 students. “The residence hall design includes suite-style units with a separate bedroom for each student. This would be considered phase one of a two phase project.”
Board member Don Oelsligle of Tilden, said the work done by the administration to investigate the public-private partnership will pay dividends. “The efforts of the due diligence that have been done so far will lead to the most economical way to fund additional housing for the students, which is our first priority.”
Dirk Peterson of Norfolk, chairperson of the board’s facilities committee, said this project will help alleviate some of the housing issues currently in the city of Norfolk. “With projects like Tejas Tubular coming in, the city will need additional housing. New student housing will actually help the community since more of our students will be able to live on campus and not have to rent homes or apartments. This is an excellent time to do this project.”
Chipps said the Board of Governors is considerate of the cost to the students. “So, it was important to dedicate a significant amount of time studying the public-private concept to make sure the College and our students will occupy a premium living facility and at a reasonable cost. Therefore, even though it will take us a little longer to construct the residence hall with revenue bonds, it is a better financial solution for our students and for the College.”
“This is not just about developing new residence halls. It has a ripple effect as to what residence halls mean to a college community,” Chipps said. “We want this process to be a long-term solution to the pressing housing needs at Northeast. So, in addition to the residence halls, we are exploring the possibility of adding a new cafeteria to better serve the growing campus population.“
He said increasing housing opportunities as well as recreational and programming needs on campus are built on two priorities. “First is student life, which translates to taking good care of our students; and second is the growth of our college. Our number one priority is enrollment management, which gets at the heart of this concept.”
Chipps said he is pleased the College is taking steps to provide students with additional living opportunities on campus. “We have expanded Northeast over the years with new facilities to meet programming needs. Now, the College is taking action to even better meet the needs of our highest priority – our students.”
Construction on the new residence hall could begin later this year with occupancy by January 2016.
PHOTO ID: Site of new Northeast Community College residence hall