Changing demographics on Western Michigan University's
campus such as a strong international enrollment and an increasing number of students from other states is driving the university to build new student housing.
Students' housing preferences also are changing, which makes this the time to consider and carefully plan for future housing needs, says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs.
In what is known as the South Neighborhood there will be a newly constructed student center, housing, and a new campus gateway. The South Neighborhood is highly visible from the adjacent Stadium Drive.
WMU says this visibility gives the university an opportunity to create a campus gateway that offers a "wow" factor along what WMU President Edward Montgomery recently noted is "the longest contiguous face of the campus."
"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 Anderson. "It's more important than ever that we provide a rich student experience on campus--one that is cutting edge, enriching and engaging.”
The first new student housing in the area is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2020, and a new student center is targeted to be available in 2021. Intense long-range planning for the entire South Neighborhood is expected to begin soon and be completed by October 2018. That neighborhood master plan will guide development through 2023.
City planners and the Michigan Department of Transportation also are proposing development near the Stadium Drive and Howard Street intersection. "The chance to develop for our students' needs at the same time we coordinate with community needs and planning is a very appealing prospect," Anderson says.
That potential is a prime reason Montgomery and other senior leaders are convinced the South Neighborhood needs to be next in line for development, she says.
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 now living in Elmwood were informed in early November that once the academic year is over and their leases end, the apartments will be demolished in late May to prepare the site for new student housing construction in 2019.
The South Neighborhood development is in keeping with a campuswide housing and dining master plan adopted in 2013.
Source: Western Michigan University