February 12, 2004

New 100-unit apartment complex gets green light

by Tom Woolf

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees today (Feb. 12) gave the green light to the first new housing construction on the Carbondale campus in 36 years.

The 100-unit apartment complex, to be built at the northwest corner of Wall Street and Grand Avenue, is part of the 2004 SIUC Housing Master Plan, which trustees also approved today.

University Housing began early development of this second, 15-year plan in 1998. The first long-range plan covered the years 1953-1968, and resulted in the construction of Thompson Point, University Park and Brush Towers.

"Our last buildings were built in 1968," SIUC housing Director Edward L. Jones said, referring to the Evergreen Terrace family housing complex. "It's just time for a new plan. There was a different student back then. Now, they're bringing more equipment, things that weren't an issue in 1968. It's a different world and people's expectations are different. They're much greater. Our students want conveniences and amenities."

Building new facilities to meet emerging housing trends is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the University's development by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

The 147,000-square-foot Wall Street-Grand Avenue complex will house 400 sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students. Each apartment will offer between 1,000 and 1,380 square feet and house four students in either two- or four-bedroom units. All of the apartments will have a living room, bathroom(s) and a fully functional kitchen.

The project requires demolition of two dilapidated, former residential buildings at 908 and 910 S. Wall St. One of the buildings is vacant and the other is used for storage.

The sale of revenue bonds will finance the $22 million project, and University Housing revenues will cover the debt service on the bonds. The project requires approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and University officials expect the IBHE to review the proposal in April. If approved, groundbreaking will take place in 2005 and the complex will open in late summer 2006.

Student input gathered for the housing master plan indicates the need for more apartment-style units. Some 53 percent of students living at the Southern Hills family housing complex are single. Completion of the Wall Street-Grand Avenue complex will offer more appropriate housing for single students and, according to the housing plan, is essential to the eventual closing of Southern Hills.

The new master plan calls for the addition of 1,765 beds over the next 15 years. The next project on the boards is a 100-apartment complex housing 300 graduate students on Mill Street, on the northern edge of campus. University Housing projects a fiscal year 2008 opening for the $19.6 million project.

Other elements of the plan include:


  • Greek community: The plan notes the current facilities on Douglas Drive occupied by fraternities and sororities are more than 40 years old "and have exceeded their useful life." Plans are being developed to build a new Greek housing area west of the existing Greek row. The new facility would house 250 students.


  • Family housing expansion: Southern Hills, located on South Wall Street, consists of 22 buildings that all are more than 40 years old. The master plan refers to Southern Hills as "a significant drain on the maintenance budget of University Housing." Though built to house married students with children, 53 percent of the residents are single students. The plan calls for phasing out Southern Hills and building additional facilities at the Evergreen Terrace family complex on Pleasant Hill Road. Two Southern Hills buildings will be vacant by 2005, with the remaining 20 buildings vacated and demolished over a six- or seven-year period.


  • Living/Learning Community: The plan suggests a two-phase development west of Campus Lake. The initial phase would involve construction of a 133,000-square foot facility featuring 120 double rooms and 160 single rooms. The second phase would add another 153,500 square feet with 400 single rooms. The project would include construction of a dining facility.


  • Living/Learning Graduate Apartments: The plan calls for construction of an apartment complex for 200 students in the northwest quadrant of campus in the area of Oakland Avenue, Mill Street and Elizabeth Street.


The future of the east campus high-rise residence halls "is good," according to Jones.

"They are sound and there are people who like to live there," he said.

He believes the high-rise facilities offer "small communities within the larger community," calling the people who did the first housing master plan in 1953 "very forward-looking."

"The hallways are short and people get to know each other," Jones said. "On each floor, the hub lounge is right there, the elevators are right there. I think the design is good. They won't be paid off until 2018, so I would think we would keep them up at least that long."