U-M will detail Central Campus housing plans at Feb. 16 meeting


On-campus student housing will be the main focus of the Feb. 16 Board of Regents meeting.

Architects will share design concepts for the approved addition of a 2,300-bed housing and dining complex to be built on the current Elbel Field location, and university officials will discuss the intent of adding more Central Campus housing nearby.

Regents voted unanimously Dec. 8 to approve a $6.5 million initial planning contract with Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The architects will present details of the layout and design of the approved housing plan Feb. 16.

University officials also will share early objectives regarding a second phase of Central Campus housing that is expected to be developed in the coming years on property adjacent to the former Fingerle Lumber property that U-M purchased in 2018.

Most of the former Fingerle site, along the west side of Fifth Avenue between East Madison and Hill streets, will be the new location of the Michigan Marching Band practice field.

The second phase of additional on-campus housing, currently under consideration by the university, is north of the U-M Sports Coliseum and includes additional property along South Division Street between East Madison and Hill.

Much of that property is now privately owned. Landowners in the area can expect a university representative to contact them soon. Several properties have been acquired by local real estate investor and U-M Regent Ronald Weiser. Weiser’s intent is to transfer ownership of those properties, at cost, to the university.

President Santa J. Ono said the development of more Central Campus housing is vital to meeting the needs of students who are increasingly seeking affordable, on-campus housing options.

“We are grateful for Regent Weiser’s ongoing assistance in acquiring these properties,” Ono said. “Phase two is slated to begin after the completion of phase one. Property acquisition is occurring at this time to allow for the smooth transition of current residents and begin site preparation in anticipation of construction.”

Ono said there may be more details to share at the regents meeting, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. in the Ruthven Building’s University Hall on the Ann Arbor campus. The meeting also will be livestreamed.

Currently, the university can house 11,353 students in university housing. That includes 8,960 undergraduates and 2,393 graduate students. Among the undergraduates living on campus, 76% are first-year students.

The reasons for increasing the number of students able to live on campus go well beyond meeting demand and affordability. Research shows that undergraduate students who live on campus are more likely to engage in academic activities relative to their off-campus peers.

University officials also have said that more on-campus housing should help ease market pressures for undergraduate and graduate students who prefer off-campus housing in the community.


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