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Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: 1/28/04
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NEW HOUSING PLANNED - The first phase of Southeastern Louisiana University's new student housing plan will be a four-story structure to be built near the university's main entrance off University Avenue. The university has contracted with Capstone Development Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., to handle the project of replacing Southeastern's older residential facilities.

      HAMMOND --  Southeastern Louisiana University is moving forward with an ambitious $55 million plan to replace all of its older housing with new student-focused residential facilities, President Randy Moffett announced today (Jan. 28).
      Southeastern selected Capstone Development Corporation of Birmingham, Ala., to handle the financing, renovation, demolition and construction projects. The plan received approval recently from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state higher education coordinating body. This follows previous approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, Southeastern's governing board.
      Capstone's financial team will propose its finance plan to the State Bond Commission in the near future. Once approved, sale of the bonds to finance the project would take place in the spring, according to the university's projected timeline.
      Moffett said Southeastern's campus has benefited over the last several years from more than $80 million in new construction and renovations, which includes new classroom and lab facilities. 
      "Over the last several years, the university has modernized and upgraded its academic facilities for our more than 15,000 students," Moffett added. "It is important to the future of Southeastern that we now turn our focus to meeting students' expectations in our residential environment."
      Vice President for Student Affairs Brad O'Hara said the new residences will provide a technology-rich environment as well as more space, privacy, and security than the older "dorm-style" complexes.  "We went through a very thorough assessment of our older buildings and came to the conclusion that replacement with new facilities is a more economical approach than renovation," he said.
      The exception is Cardinal Newman Hall, a 96-bed facility that serves as the university's primary residential building for honors students. Cardinal Newman is the only residential facility on the south campus that will be renovated. All others are slated to be demolished over the next several years.
      Plans call for initial construction to start later this year. O'Hara indicated that approximately 700 new beds will be built in facilities near Southeastern's main entrance on University Avenue and north of the Sims Memorial Library. Occupancy is anticipated for spring 2005. Additional phased-in construction projects will follow according to anticipated housing needs.
      O'Hara said preparation for the project started over the semester break with the demolition of Tucker Hall, a dormitory built in 1961. Other buildings will be demolished according to a phased-in construction program for the new facilities with total removal of older facilities expected by fall 2006.
      "Phasing the demolition and construction is critical," O'Hara explained. "In addition to our own students, we also have to take into consideration housing commitments we have made to many academic camps over the summer and other events which take place on the Southeastern campus, such as the Manning Passing Academy and Louisiana Special Olympics."
      Currently, Southeastern's residences can accommodate approximately 2,300 students, 600 located in two newer facilities on the university's north campus. Southeastern Oaks, an apartment-style facility with 312 beds, opened in 1999; the Village, a residential facility for university-based organizations, including sororities and fraternities, houses approximately 270 students and was built in 2000. Both projects were developed by Capstone.
      "The buildings are designed to fit in with the university's master plan, incorporating lots of green space and common areas to help develop a sense of community among the students," O'Hara said. He explained that student focus groups confirmed Capstone's plan of renovation and that the new construction is appealing, meets student needs and will do much to enhance campus and student life.
      "The proposed facilities are exactly what students today are looking for," said Southeastern senior Jodi Keating, a family and consumer sciences major from Covington who served on the committee that evaluated the competing proposals. "Because it's so easy to get to classes, living on campus is very attractive if the facilities are modern, provide privacy, and have amenities such as Internet access and cable television," added Keating, who has lived on campus throughout her college career.