New residence hall to welcome incoming freshmen in fall 2015

dorm rendering3 sizedUAB student-housing occupancy has been at more than 98 percent for the past five years and more than 100 percent the past two years. A new 714-bed residence hall scheduled to open in fall 2015 will provide much-needed space for students applying to live on campus.

Student Housing continues to provide a space for every freshman who chooses to live on campus, but these students often are placed in apartments rather than more traditional suite style spaces that are designed for freshmen to more readily get to know others and build community,” said Carolyn Farley, director of Academic and Student Services Operations. “The new residence hall will enable us to house all freshmen in suite-style rooms.”

Since 2007, student enrollment has increased 14.3 percent, to 18,568 from 16,246. Amy Wagoner Owens, interim director for Housing Residence Life, said enrollment increases the demand for housing.

“We certainly see the impact of enrollment being strong,” Wagoner Owens said. “We know that students who are coming to UAB want the total college experience, including living on campus.”

In 2013, Student Housing leased 123 beds to house the overflow of students who want to live on campus but could not secure on-campus housing. The number was an increase from 75 in 2012. “Resident assistants are assigned to these off-campus communities to facilitate the communication between the university and those living in these locations,” Farley said.

Wagoner Owens said she expects overflow rates for this fall to be on par with the numbers from 2012.

dorm graph1The numbers represent a combined total occupancy per year for the five residence halls. The numbers do not include off-campus leases.The residence hall, which has not been named, will consist of an eight-story tower and a four-story wing for a combined 217,000 square feet. Of the 714 beds, 680 are designated for freshman, and the rest for resident assistants and professional staff. The building also will include a laundry facility and a storm shelter to comply with new building regulations. The project is estimated to cost $46 million.

“The facility will include several common spaces for the residents,” Farley said. “These include study and lounge spaces on individual floors as well as a large community room on the ground floor.”

The residence hall will be located at the north end of the block bordered by south 16th and 17th streets and Ninth and 10th avenues. The space was previously a parking lot serving residential and commuter students. Farley said the Ninth Avenue block between 16th and 17th streets will be closed permanently to provide green space for the new residence hall and Denman Hall.

The existing five residence halls house approximately 2,200 students plus a resident assistant staff of 60. The new residence hall will be the second largest; Blazer Hall has 722 freshmen beds.

Farley said the new residence hall will enable Student Housing to begin encouraging upperclassmen and transfer students to consider living on campus.

“We appreciate that some have been discouraged by not being able to secure dorm graph2a space on campus these past few years as we have accommodated a growing freshmen class,” Farley said. “Student Housing is looking at some new amenities and incentives to entice these students to consider returning to on-campus living. We also anticipate marketing to transfer students in ways that we have not done historically because space has been limited. We look forward to being better able to serve this community of students.”