In order to avoid a surplus of first-year students in temporary housing in the future, Ithaca College has released preliminary plans to expand the Circle Apartments by adding nine new buildings and adding approximately 2,500 square feet to the Community Building possibly, by fall 2011.
In a 30-page report released last week, Carl Sgrecci, vice president of finance and administration, submitted detailed plans to the Ithaca Town Planning Board that would add more than 280 bedrooms to the existing apartment complex.
The proposed plan calls for the initial demolition of Circle Apartments 7, 8, 11 and 13, and the construction of four four-bedroom apartments, two six-unit apartments and three buildings containing 31 apartments — a total of nine new buildings to the apartment complex.
Two additions to Building 1 and a 2,500 square foot addition to the Community Building are also part of the proposal.
About 106 parking spaces between the Circle Apartments and the main campus will also be added.
Sgrecci’s report states, “After a comprehensive strategic review of the options to address the impact of first-year students living in temporary accommodations, it was determined that the best way to achieve the goal of eliminating this type of housing … is to build additional apartment-style housing that would be attractive to our rising junior population,” as the main reasoning point for the expansion.
The expansion of the Community Building will increase the size of laundry, fitness facilities and include a small convenience store.
Rick Couture, the associate vice president of the office of facilities, said the addition of the convenience store would allow apartment residents a more convenient place to buy necessities than going downtown or to a campus store.
“These changes would involve renovating the existing building … to accommodate a potential retail sales area where students would be able to purchase basic groceries and other sundries,” Couture said.
Sgrecci said the expansion project will allow the college to maintain its status as a residential campus.
“The expansion of the Circle Apartments speaks directly to the mission of Ithaca College as a residential institution,” Sgrecci said. “We firmly believe that for most students the total Ithaca College experience involves living on campus, and an increasing number of juniors and seniors have affirmed that by oversubscribing the Circles since they were first opened.”
Zach Newswanger, the assistant director of operations for the Office of Residential Life, said it was a mix of future enrollment numbers and the high demand for the Circle Apartments that led to the proposed expansion.
“Looking at enrollment numbers over the next couple of years, and in order to meet where housing capacity would be at those times are the first two reasons [for the expansion],” Newswanger said. “Also, it is obviously the most sought-after housing we can offer on campus at this time. When it comes to the lottery the Circles go first because it is so desired by our rising sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
Newswanger also said that at this point the proposed expansion is only in a preliminary planning stage and will need final approval by the board of trustees in May.
“[The college] is working with the architect to see what [the expansion] would look like, how [the college] would go about conducting the expansion and how much it would cost,” Newswanger said. “[The college] is doing all this so the board of trustees can make the most informed final decision in their May meeting.”
No set cost or timeline has been established for the expansion project to date.
Couture said upon approval by the board of trustees, the college would like to finish the expansion by fall 2011.
The Circle Apartments, which are privately owned by Integrated Acquisition & Development, are leased and operated by the college.
Integrated Acquisition & Development has selected T.G. Miller, P.C., Engineers and Surveyors as the civil engineers of the project, and QPK Design, of Syracuse, as the architect.
An environmental review of the proposed plan found that disturbances in increased local traffic, stormwater conveyance and construction activity would exist. Integrated Acquisition & Development and the college plan to submit an Expanded Long Environmental Assessment Form to the Ithaca Town Planning Board to address these issues.
Freshman Lauren Kutch, who will be living in a Circle Apartment in the fall, said she thinks the proposed plan will be good for the college community.
“[The expansion] will be beneficial to underclassmen because more students will be able to live in apartment-style housing,” Kutch said. “If there are more Circle Apartments available, I think there would be a wider variety of students who will have the opportunity to live with one another.”
Kutch said she would like to hear more from the college on the specific details of the proposed plan.
“It would be beneficial to know what size [Circle Apartments] they are planning on building,” Kutch said. “It would be nice if they built more six — person apartments because I know there are fewer of those, yet they are more in demand by students.”
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