The Board of Trustees approved a plan Thursday to expand graduate and professional student housing, building on President Elizabeth Garrett’s commitment to close and renovate Maplewood Park apartments.
While Garrett had pledged to the Graduate and Professional Students Assembly at the start of this academic year that she would prioritize graduate housing needs, students still face difficulties securing housing as enrollment numbers are set to increase and off-campus housing prices continue to rise.
Additionally, in November, the University proposed a plan to the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board which would convert Hughes Hall, a law school dormitory, into a space for offices, administrative support and academic programs.
The Board of Trustees’ buildings and properties committees approved national collegiate housing provider, EdR as the housing developer for the construction of the new housing complex, the University reported.
Construction of replacement housing in Maplewood Park is to begin in the fall of 2016, with the goal to open during the summer of 2018 in time for the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, according to Jeremy Thomas, senior director of real estate department. Currently, the graduate housing site has 394 units housing 480 residents.
“[The construction] is a comprehensive replacement and redevelopment of the property as the buildings have reached the end of their useful life,” Thomas said.
Expected to accommodate more than double the number of current residents, the new housing units will help alleviate the housing deficits for graduate students and as the number of incoming students increase, according to Thomas.
“The new complex will continue to target and house Cornell graduate and professional students,” Thomas said.
The University has been partnering with graduate and professional students to address housing needs as current residents of Maplewood Park will be required to move out and find new accommodations, according to Marty Rauker, senior director of strategic initiatives, student and campus life. However, he said aid will be given to students as they are navigate the relocation process.
“Informational sessions and housing fairs are scheduled for current and prospective students, along with enhanced online access to information, webinars, search resources and information about the Ithaca community and neighborhoods,” he said.
Additionally, other graduate housing units will be altered to provide room for a greater number of graduate and professional students.
“Graduate and professional students who currently live in Maplewood Park will be given priority for rooms and apartments in Hasbrouck and Thurston Court,” Rauker said. “Spaces in Hasbrouck will be reconfigured to optimize capacity.”
In addition to the Maplewood Park expansion, the University is also considering developing East Hill Plaza for housing, according to Rauker.
There are plans involving student and community participation to address housing shortage issues beginning this spring.
“Cornell recently launched a comprehensive housing master planning process that will outline the strategic direction for undergraduate and graduate housing. The master plan document is expected to be complete during fall 2016,” he said. “Opportunities for student and community input will be available throughout the spring 2016 semester.”