ST. JOHN’S — Construction on one of two new residences for Memorial University’s campuses in St. John’s and Corner Brook is underway and the other is getting closer to the building phase.
“I look out my window every day and I can see the status of the project,” said Christine Burke, MUN’s director of housing, food and conference services, speaking on the phone from her Hatcher House office in St. John’s.
The 500-unit residence tower being built on the former Hatcher field is on schedule, with one of the wings of the tower expected to be accessible by the winter of 2013, with the full residence set to be open that fall.
Meanwhile, construction for the 200-unit facility at Grenfell Campus recently went to tender and is due to close on June 21. It is scheduled to open towards the end of 2012.
Burke said the need for a new residence in St. John’s has been apparent for quite some time. On average, that campus receives between 2,300 and 2,500 residence applications every year to fill 1,500 available units.
The new residence will increase capacity to 2,000 students. Burke said there are 450 students on a wait list.
“I do anticipate that our applications will increase as a result of that,” she said, noting that the new building is exclusively made up of single rooms.
Dennis Waterman, director of administration and finance at Grenfell, said design work on the four-storey structure is finished and the school is hopeful the project will come-in on budget.
Site-work for the new residence, located near the chalet apartments, is already complete.
It will include two-bedroom suites and communal food preparation areas — unlike St. John’s, Grenfell does not offer a meal plan, though it has in the past. College of the North Atlantic will use 25 per cent of the beds.
Waterman said the school has a substantial wait list every year for residence rooms, and with goals set to increase Grenfell’s student population from current levels of almost 1,300 students to 2,000 in the years to come, more space will be a necessity. The school last opened a new chalet residence in 2002 with over 200 beds.
Undergraduate enrolment at the St. John’s campus has varied between 12,500 and 13,300 students each year from 2001 to 2010, while the graduate population has steadily increased over the same time frame, peaking at 2,952 students in 2010.
“As the university grows, we’ll certainly have to increase residences, but that’s in the long-term,” said Burke.