UND is getting set to demolish, then rebuild some residence halls, while others will see varying degrees of remodeling.
A proposal to upgrade residence halls on campus is key to bringing the university full-circle on its ongoing project to add new facilities, such as the Memorial Union and the newly-redesigned Chester Fritz Library. The university has invested in those buildings and others, and is making inroads to partnering with the U.S. Space Force, to expand its research expertise. Improved student housing will tie those projects together.
“It would be good to have housing equal to the really good teaching and research that we do here, as well as the wonderful high-touch effort that we make with each and every student,” said Jed Shivers, vice president of finance and operations at UND.
On June 29, the State Board of Higher Education accepted UND's proposal to partner with Johnson Controls, Plenary, Corvias -- called JCP -- for the multi-building project. According to Shivers, UND still needs to finalize negotiations with JCP, but the two entities, he said, have a good relationship. The SBHE Budget and Finance Committee needs to sign off on the actual project at a meeting in July, and following that, the entire board later that month.
Under the project, residential housing for students, primarily underclassmen, will be concentrated in the complex around Wilkerson Hall. The plan is to start by tearing down then reconstructing McVey, while carrying out extensive renovations of Brannon. Selke and Noren halls would see some improvements and become housing for budget-conscious students. The demolition and rebuild of West would round out the project.
Should the proposal get the green light, UND officials don’t intend to wait.
“Once we get the final board approval in July, we will execute right away,” said Mike Pieper, associate vice president of facilities.
The completed project would create a quad for student recreation, and the building would be connected to Wilkerson, for easy access to dining facilities.
The idea of a housing redesign compliments investments UND has made in other areas, but also reflects the Grand Forks housing market. Pieper said at one time UND had space for more than 5,000 students to live on campus, but as housing options improved, students, upperclassmen largely, moved off campus. Given that availability, UND is looking to “right size” its number of residential rooms to about 1,900.
The project is part of the university’s plan to use its space more efficiently. Housing space would be reduced by more than 1 million square feet, which would save more than $20 million in deferred maintenance costs.
While the redevelopment project focuses on the west side of the English Coulee, the door remains open for future redevelopment on the east side. Buildings like Squires, Bek and Walsh could be torn down, to make room for space for private developers. A possible idea could be adding apartments that are more attractive to upperclassmen.
Residence halls to the south Squires, including Johnstone, Smith and Fulton, could be turned over for academic use. Pieper said the idea is to keep student housing to the north of University Avenue.