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Overhead shot of a building on a University campus

Overhead view of where a new residence hall will be constructed.

Expanding housing: Plans developing for new residence hall project

The University is moving forward with efforts to construct a residence hall that will add up to 1,200 beds, and anticipates having the building ready for use by fall 2022. The structure will be located where Atkin-Colby and Hamilton-Whitten residence halls once stood, shown above.

The need for additional housing was confirmed through a campus study completed in 2018. Findings showed that Illinois State needs to better meet the demand for on-campus housing as required by the University’s On-Campus Housing Policy, as well as provide competitive, updated, and diverse housing options for our students. The University requires students to live in University housing their first two years out of high school.

Residence halls that remain on campus are Watterson Towers, Hewett-Manchester, and Tri-Towers. Including the on-campus Cardinal Court apartments, there are about 6,000 students from the enrollment of more than 20,000 who live in facilities owned by the University.

The new housing initiative took a major step forward at the start of the fall semester, when the University awarded the housing build to Gilbane Development Company of Rhode Island to develop the public/private partnership project. Gilbane will fund the building through investors. The University will lease the land for up to 30 years, with the option to buy out the lease.

The strategy allows for construction without the use of state funds, student fees, or tuition dollars. ISU used the same approach to build Cardinal Court, which opened in 2012 and is now owned by the University.

Plans are far from finalized, meaning an accurate estimate of total cost is not available as plans continue to develop with Gilbane. The firm has a national track record for such projects, having constructed student housing at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State University, and the University of Missouri.

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