Arnold Hall and Apartments, one of West Virginia University’s oldest residential complexes, will close at the end of the current academic year under an arrangement approved Friday (Jan. 27) by the Board of Governors.
As part of the decision, the Board unanimously agreed to an arrangement with developers of University Place, a public-private partnership, to convert approximately 450 beds on the upper seven floors of the project’s south tower, to be named Seneca Hall.
Except in very limited circumstances, WVU requires freshman and other new students to live in University residence halls. In addition, several hundred sophomores and other upperclassmen typically opt to live in residence halls.
As campus residences, the residence hall floors will be subject to the same regulations and operations as other campus residence halls, including resident assistants and programming. WVU rules regarding alcoholic beverages, access, etc., will also apply.
The second and third floors in Seneca Hall, as well as the remainder of the development, will continue as private apartments. The first floor is retail space occupied by a convenience store.
“The decision is consistent with the intent of the 2012 Student Housing Master Plan,” Rob Alsop, vice president for legal, government and entrepreneurial engagement, told the Board. However, he acknowledged that it is slightly different from the plan’s original timeline regarding Arnold’s or other residence halls’ future.
“But we are pivoting a little bit in the best interest of the University,” he said.
The shift is appropriate, he said, because it addresses three issues:
- Low occupancy at University Place.
- WVU financial challenges relating to the low occupancy.
- A desire to move forward on improving and upgrading the residence hall experience for freshman and upperclassmen desiring to stay in a residence hall.
Closing Arnold is the best solution to address these issues because of its age – it was built in 1957, with the apartments added in 1960; its location – like University Place, it is on the downtown campus; and its size – its capacity most closely matches the space in University Place’s south tower.
“Housing is not about housing, it is about the experience,” President Gordon Gee said. “We have made a wonderful decision. We were given a challenge, and we turned the challenge into an opportunity. I am excited about this.”
Follow this link for the Board presentation.
The resolution adopted by the Board says, in part: “Closing Arnold Hall and Apartments and converting portions of University Place into a residence hall will provide updated, modern and attractive amenities to recruit and retain students, solve financial and occupancy challenges at University Place and avoid deferred maintenance expenses for Arnold Hall and Apartments.”
The resolution noted that deferred maintainence on Arnold has reached $20 million.
Follow this link to read the resolution.
Seneca Hall will be the highest priced residence on campus at $4,100 per bed per semester. The rooms will be four-bedroom suites, semi-private baths and a shared living room and kitchen with appliances. The price reflects those unique amenities for a residence hall and its prime location. (Three bedroom suites will be $4,250 per bed per semester.)
Additionally, he said, students already gravitate toward costlier housing since it provides the kind of amenities and lifestyle they demand, and for which they are willing to pay a premium. As a result, he noted, there is plenty of lower priced space available – Arnold was not the lowest cost residence hall – and no student should be financially disadvantaged by the shift.
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Anticipating this decision, Arnold has not been an option for incoming students so no students will need to be moved in the fall semester.
Alsop also said no employees will lose their jobs as a result of the move; they will be provided opportunities to work elsewhere on campus.
Follow this link to read the terms.
As part of the agreement with private developers, WVU will receive an additional share of the net proceeds over the term of the lease.
CONTACT: John A. Bolt; University Relations/Communications
304.293.5520 or 304.382.4707; firstname.lastname@example.org
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