Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti on Thursday completed the final elements of its plan, called Welcome Home 2025, to invest $200 million in the overhaul of on-campus student housing.
The plan includes the construction of two new residence halls, demolition of older units, and the renovation of all remaining residence halls except one that was recently renovated.
“Under our Welcome Home 2025 plan, every residence hall that remains on our campus will be renovated other than Wise Hall, which was renovated in 2017,” says James Smith, president of EMU. “Plus, we will have two entirely new residence halls that will be stunning in their design.
“The new housing communities will be highly user-friendly and efficient for our students, and they will contribute greatly to the overall vibrancy of our campus environment. As of today, it’s all systems go for the start of this transformational project.”
Design work has been underway for several months in conjunction with students and employees, and construction is slated to begin this summer.
The university’s Board of Regents approved the lease agreement and other related documents, which will lease the university’s campus housing system to an external entity named EMU Campus Living. Under the agreement, EMU Campus Living will design, build, renovate, maintain, improve, and operate most aspects of the buildings in the university’s housing system for 35 years.
Among the signature elements of Welcome Home 2025 is the construction of the approximately 400-bed apartment-style Lakeview residence hall next to the Student Center that will overlook the pond on the north side of campus. The other new residence hall will be located on the west side of campus near the athletics complex. The new Westview facility will replace the current apartments, which will be demolished. It will feature approximately 300 beds.
The newly constructed and renovated residence halls and apartments will include state-of-the-art WiFi capabilities, air conditioning, and room designs/layouts that meet the needs of students, who have had a significant role in the design process. The goal is to provide every EMU student housing resident with quality and affordable housing that includes proper technology to meet the demands of today’s academic world.
Gilbane Development Co. was selected as the university’s student housing system operations partner in December 2021. This followed a process that began in 2018 and included a student survey, housing market study, housing master plan, and extensive engagement with faculty, staff, and students to help EMU determine what students want in an on-campus housing experience.
Under the lease terms, the university will have no material responsibility for, and will receive no future income from, the housing system during the term of the agreement. The school will retain important student-facing services, including residence life services, information technology services, residency assignments, billing and collections services, and marketing, and the university will be compensated for such services.
Housing rates will be approved by a Management Review Committee comprised of EMU representatives, EMU Campus Living, and the Gilbane Property Manager. Under the terms of the agreement, any annual increase in housing rates the committee recommends in excess of the greater of 3.4 percent or the Consumer Price Index (but not to exceed 6.8 percent) requires approval by the university.
EMU began formally exploring options for improving its student housing system in 2018, recognizing that its facilities are, on average, 57 years old and in need of substantial modernization,
Eastern engaged Rieth-Jones Advisors (RJA) to provide advisory services throughout the entire process. RJA completed a student survey, a housing market study, and a housing master plan to help the university determine what students want in an on-campus housing experience.
The university also engaged with the Student Government, University Budget Council, and Faculty Senate, allowing these bodies to provide their collective feedback regarding plans for upgrading and financing improvements to student housing.