The proposed new dorm could be built here on South Green behind Nelson Dinning Hall

The Future of Ohio University’s South Green

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Ohio University is planning to renovate and possibly rebuild parts of South Green in 2019 as a part of its continual updating of the Housing Development Planning Strategy.  The renovation would eliminate $80.2 million in deferred maintenance that has left many of the dorms on South Green in an ever-worsening state of disrepair.

Living on South Green

Alexis McCurdy, a resident assistant Mackinnon Hall, said the worn-down South-Green dorms are not easy to live in.

“A really big problem this year has been water pressure; it’s  been terrible consistently throughout the whole year and it’s either extremely hot or cold,” she said. “Also, the laundry rooms are always a little nasty and I don’t think they ever clean them or upgrade them.”  

McCurdy said that these problems may cause prospective students to choose other universities with better looking dorms.

“Dorms are a big factor for students because you are living there all year round,” she said. “You are paying so much money, and if you get this crappy dorm that’s not OK, but if there are more modern dorms that’s more bang for your buck.”

Peter Trentacoste, Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life

Peter Trentacoste, Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life, agrees with McCurdy and said as competitiveness between universities intensifies, it is important to show prospective students that they will feel at home when living in the dorms. Trentacoste said some South Green dorms fail to do that.

“We have not kept pace necessarily with what we should be doing when it comes to maintenance,” he said. “We do want to make sure any investment we take truly does better our students’ academic success and their living experience.”

Trentacoste said the goal is not to make the dorms more “posh,” but construct buildings that “fit the fabric of the university.”     

Housing Portfolio, cutesy of Ohio University Board of Trustees

According to the OU Board of Trustees agenda, part of the tentative housing plan would include demolishing six South-Green dorms:

  • Weld
  • Armbruster
  • Atkinson
  • Smith
  • True
  • Dougan.

The demolision of these buildings alone would eliminate $40.66 million in deferred maintenance costs and would allow space for a recreational area or a new dorm.

New Dorm

Another part of the housing plan is to build a 400-bed residence hall behind Nelson Dining Hall. The Board of Trustees’ agenda says construction could start as soon as 2020 and cost over $60 million, with $1.6 million of that going towards renovating existing infrastructure on South Green.

Renovating existing buildings on South Green is not easy.

“The buildings are not conducive for renovations in some of the same ways Jefferson and Bush Halls were, and the catwalks [connecting the dorms] have a bit of a challenge,” Trentacoste said.   

Planning for the Future

Despite the challenges, Trentacoste said improving that part of the university is necessary.

“Our students and alumni deserve this place to be as strong as it can be,” he said. “I take it seriously every day of the idea of not just making an investment that’s going to benefit our students today but will do that for 30, 40, 50 years from now.”