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Costs Preclude Building Planned New Dormitory

The University has canceled plans to build a new dorm on South Campus — a spike in construction costs that could not be recovered in student rent has rendered it unfeasible. But at the same time, the need for more dorm space has diminished.

Cost for the building, which was to be on Ridge Road just south of Rams Head Center, originally was estimated at $21 million. That was thought to be recoverable through dorm rent and accumulated reserves. The cost now is estimated at $37 million.

“That makes the rent unaffordable,” said Rick Bradley, associate director of housing and residential education. State money is not available for dorm construction; dorms are expected to be self-liquidating through rent payments.

The project was four years in the planning, and the trustees approved it in January 2014.

The dorm would have housed about 276 men and women in suites with four single rooms, two baths and a common living room. It was to come along with the closing of the last of the early-1960s Odum Village, originally built for students with families. Odum now houses about 320 undergraduate students and 130 graduate students, and it will close after the 2015-16 school year because the University has declined to invest in newly required sprinkler systems for the aging buildings.

All this coincides with a rise in empty beds in other dorms, because, Bradley said, new apartment construction in town has drawn students away from campus. When plans were drawn for the new dorm four years ago, UNC had about 300 vacancies, Bradley said, and that has grown to about 600.

Scrapping the dorm leaves open what campus facilities officials consider one of the last viable construction sites on the main campus. The dorm was expected to include 20,000 square feet of street-level nonresidential space that could be used for administrative, academic or commercial purposes.


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