Western Michigan University has unveiled plans to build new student housing and a student center on its Kalamazoo campus.
The construction projects in the part of campus known as the South Neighborhood will create new housing ready for occupancy in 2020, and a new student center targeted to open in 2021.
The university says the development will result in an eye-catching new presence showcasing the part of campus that runs along Stadium Drive.
"This is all about transforming the student experience on campus—making sure the student center and residential neighborhoods are set up to offer our students a truly transformational environment," says Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs.
The South Neighborhood's location offers Western Michigan the opportunity to transform the area into a campus gateway that offers a "wow" factor along what is "the longest contiguous face of the campus."
Earlier this year, the South Neighborhood was identified as the site for a long-discussed student center. More recently, Anderson says, officials also decided to develop student housing in the area.
Western Michigan had announced plans to demolish and replace housing in the Valley Neighborhood of the campus, but the plans were postponed after University President Edward Montgomery decided to take the university in a different direction, The Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
Montgomery concluded that developing the South Neighborhood should be the priority because it would have a greater impact on the university by increasing enrollment and strengthening the university's connection to Kalamazoo.
The first new housing in South Neighborhood will replace Elmwood Apartments, a tract of 16 low-rise student apartment buildings that house about 220 students. Students living in Elmwood have been told that once the academic year is over and their leases end, the apartments will be demolished.
The South Neighborhood development is in keeping with a campuswide housing and dining master plan adopted in 2013. It divides the main campus into four residential neighborhoods:
- Valley Neighborhood, home to three major residence hall complexes and Goldsworth Valley Apartments as well as the new Valley Dining Center.
- Center Neighborhood, home to the new Western Heights residence complex, Henry Hall and the Hoekje/Bigelow Dining Hall.
- West Neighborhood, home to Western View apartment-style residence halls and the Western View Community Center.
- South Neighborhood, which now includes Elmwood and Stadium Drive Apartments, Bistro 3 dining facility and two complexes known as the "Big Four" and the "Little Three" residence halls.