The West Chester University Housing Renewal Initiative commenced on Jan. 2 to change the face and usage of the residential quad and Hollinger Field with the construction of a $106 million residence hall project.Many students moving back to their residence halls at the beginning of the semester were shocked to find heavy construction equipment, trailers in the residential quad and Hollinger field unavailable for use.
The West Chester University Housing Renewal Initiative was started to the dismay of students who are no longer allowed to play sports on the field or cut across the construction site.
“Hollinger field has been sacrificed for the better good of the construction project as of 1.3.2008,” Robert Watmuff, Assistant Project Manager, said via email. “Hollinger field is currently the location of the jobsite facilities, i.e. offices/portable restrooms.”
The project includes plans to build two privately owned residence halls. Dormitory ‘A’ will be erected in the current location of Hollinger field. Dormitory ‘B’ is scheduled to be built parallel to Wayne Hall in an L shape toward Sanderson Hall.
Currently, no buildings are being erected on the location because of “necessary exterior utility relocations” designed to move water, phone, steam and electric lines under the intended building footprint.
This segment of the project is the most difficult part of the project, according to Richard Przywara, executive director of the West Chester University Foundation. This phase also includes delivery of 4000 cubic yards of concrete, reinforced steel and moving two cranes to the building site. Przywara and construction officials know this will be noisy.
Noise levels have already been an issue with certain students, who wished to remain anonymous living in nearby residence halls including Killinger Hall, the 24-hour quiet residence hall. So far things have been far from quiet, however, the company building the residence halls is sticking to working from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., attempting do to the majority of construction while students are at class.
“Noise is an inherent problem with any large construction site,” Watmuff said. “We are trying to tiptoe lightly during the early morning and evening hours but sometimes you have to move ahead so not to affect the stringent construction schedule.”
Included in the construction will be certain “no noise days,” which will include no usage of heavy machinery around finals and midterms. Weekends will are also not scheduled for work, provided the project stays on schedule.
The construction company, P. Agnes, inc., is bound have construction of the first two residence halls completed by August 1, 2009 with an occupancy agreement ready. Following August 1, furniture will be installed to be ready before the Fall 2009 semester.
The second phase will include the demolition of Ramsey and Tyson Halls after students are successfully moved into the new residence halls. If there is a delay, students will be moved in as soon as they are finished.
After Ramsey and Tyson are demolished, two more residence halls will be built on those sites followed by two residence halls being erected after Wayne, Schmidt and Sanderson are demolished. Wayne will become athletic field similar to Hollinger Field.
Finally, McCarthy and Goshen will likely become offices or academic buildings. The construction of the six new buildings will result in 160 more beds on campus and new offices and benefits. Dormitory ‘A’ will house an information technology center and Dormitory ‘B’ will have five classrooms.
Most above-ground construction is scheduled around mid-March when according to Michael Laing, superintendent of the site, “anything of value” will be in place. He continued stating when students return from spring break there will “be a big hole in the ground and a lot of noise.”
The residence halls will be, according to Przywara, up to par with other local universities.
“It’s going to be dirty and noisy, but it’s a generational upgrade,” Przywara said. Przywara acknowledged that the residence halls haven’t been upgraded since the 1960’s.
An improvement in quality will also include a spike in price. The available five units will range from $562 to $721 per month, per student. The WCU foundation estimates an average increase between 20-25 percent in housing costs. Each room will include semi-private bathrooms split between 2-4 students, carpet, and central air-conditioning in each room. Rooms will also contain living areas outside bedrooms. The residence halls will keep lounges and include three elevators per building. Each building will hold 525 beds over seven stories.
Przywara stressed that safety is the largest area of focus for himself. He warned students that they should acknowledge the fence and safety signs and not try to “hop a fence” just to save a few minutes.
Przywara said that the building of these residence halls is a long overdue and students that are first-year students can move in and enjoy a high quality of living by their third-year at West Chester.
Frank Stern is a West Chester student majoring in English with minor journalism. He can be reached at FS628548@wcupa.edu.