Washburn breaks ground on new residence hall

Troy Russell

Washburn has been going through some renovations on campus as of late, and it is not showing any signs of slowing down.

The university has been approved by the Washburn University Board of Regents to begin a project on the east side of campus building a new residence hall with dining facilities and a market. There will also be two parking lots built, one near the KBI laboratory and the other near Henderson and the KTWU building.

Denise Ottinger, vice president of student life, and Rick Anderson, vice president for administrations and treasurer, partnered to bring these projects to life.

“Residency falls under student life. However, it’s an interesting relationship because the food portion falls under the VP of Administration,” Ottinger said. “We both have been involved with similar projects, so it’s just natural for us to be a part of that process.”

The residence hall will house 354 beds with 340 of them being set aside for students, and the dining portion of the project is expected to seat 300 people and have an all-you-can-eat concept. There will also be a market included similar to the “Corner Store” in Memorial Union.

In total, the cost is said to be just shy of $31 million with most of the funds being financed through bonds, while the campus and Chartwells will fund a portion.

McPherson Contractors of Topeka is the general contractor for the project. Construction on the new hall has a projected completion date of July 2016, which would give enough time to furnish it and have it ready and open in August.

There are mixed opinions as to the whether or not the campus needs another residence hall.

“I don’t really see why we need one exactly; it feels like the amount of people registering is dropping so I don’t really understand why we need a new one,” said freshman Samantha Unruh.

Sophomore mass media and French major Alan Amado thought differently.

“I think it would be a valuable addition to the university because they may not always have enough room for all the students that want to live on campus,” Amado said.

Ottinger voiced that, while there is not a waiting list for campus residency, the new residence hall will allow for more international student recruitment.

Contracts for next year’s campus residency have recently opened up and usually hit capacity by April. At that point, the waiting list will be assembled.

One aspect that garnered specific attention was parking. As the construction begins the campus will initially lose parking spaces. However, this summer the two parking lots are scheduled to be built in order to support the need later on.

One of the reactions was the thought that a parking garage would be more suitable for Washburn’s campus.

When asked about this, Anderson said, “Deck parking versus surface lots are drastically different in terms of building and maintenance for one. Deck parking costs about five times more than surface, a surface lot is going to cost around $3500 to $4500 per space and deck parking is going to cost anywhere from $17,000 to $20,000 per space.”