Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
September 03, 2002
New, private rental housing for students planned
University of Guelph students will have more options when it comes to living off campus starting in 2003. The University has signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with a private-sector builder to provide up to 150 rental units primarily for students.
The University will lease a five-acre portion of its Heritage Fund lands to Richmond Property Ltd. The company plans to build and manage a combination of low-rise apartments and townhouse-style units along Edinburgh Road north of the Edinburgh Market Place.
“This exciting development is part of a strategic plan to help meet the student need for housing in Guelph as our enrolment grows,” said Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs). “We are facilitating the process by leasing part of our Heritage Fund lands to a builder who specializes in residential housing primarily for students.” Whiteside added that the University is “committed to preserving the Dairy Bush north of the new housing project, and for this reason, there will be a significant buffer between them.” There will also be an improved pedestrian walkway to campus.
Richmond Property has a “well-established track record” in building and managing student housing, said John Armstrong, director of the University’s Real Estate Division. The company, which has been in business for more than a decade, built and manages about 10 per cent of the off-campus housing in London that serves students at the University of Western Ontario. Armstrong added that city support for the project has been favourable.
Bill Hall, Richmond Property’s vice-president of operations, added: “We are very pleased to be heading this new venture in Guelph. It's an exciting time for us and the University as we work together to serve the needs of both the students and community.”
The Guelph development will be constructed in three phases. Work is scheduled to begin on the first 48 units this fall and will be completed in May 2003 and fall of 2003. The second phase is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2004, with the final phase to be ready by May 2005.
“The building plan meshes well with our strategic planning,” Whiteside said. “The University has built the 660-bed townhouse complex on campus to respond to the increased number of students who will want to live in residence. This project will provide housing in the city for those students who want to move away from an on-campus residence environment. The phased approach to the units matches perfectly the demand.” The first construction phase should be completed around the time the University is looking to accommodate a larger first-year class as a result of the double cohort, giving second-year students more off-campus options. “The second phase is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2004, just as the first class of double cohort students looks for alternative housing off-campus,” she said.
U of G student and Interhall Council president Mark Taylor agreed. “As more and more younger students come to campus, a lot of our on-campus residences will be filled with first-year students. Returning students are going to have to look elsewhere for housing.” Taylor, who heads the residence student government at the University that represents the more than 4,200 students living on campus, added that the new development will address the “shortage of the kind of housing students want.” Students have indicated that they want self-contained units, close to the University, with three to five bedrooms. “There is a big demand for these community-style suites, they are hard to find,” Taylor said.
All proceeds from the lease of the land will go into the University’s Heritage Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1991 and supports special one-time initiatives. This has included faculty start-up costs such as laboratories and computer equipment, the development of a tri-university library system with Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier, and the Learning Commons in the McLaughlin Library. It has also funded replacing the outdated student information and financial information systems to deal with Y2K concerns and to enhance online services for students.
Bill Hall, vice-president of operations
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