This summer, two properties on Federal Street will be converted into chem-free upperclass housing for the next academic year. The properties, 84 and 86 Federal Street, are owned by Bowdoin and currently house employees of the College, who will move out before conversion begins. According to Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall, the conversion will likely be temporary, in response to a decline in student interest to live off campus.
“It is a short term use. Likely just the next year we’ll be using it to give us more capacity on campus. We have less students living off campus next year than we anticipated. We want to make sure we have enough space to accommodate situations as the need arises over the coming year,” she said.
Fewer students are living off campus next year than expected, said Rendall. A policy introduced last semester limited the number of students living off campus to 185, after a working group gathered the opinions about housing from students, faculty, staff and community members and produced recommendations for a new off-campus housing policy. However, only 165 students are expected to live off campus.
Due to this unexpected increase of students living on campus, this conversion was necessary in order to grant the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) more flexibility. Previous changes to on-campus housing will persist into next year, including the removal of forced triples from Brunswick Apartments, which took place for the 2017-2018 housing lottery. These changes have reduced the number of beds the College has to offer.
Though Rendall said that the decision to convert the apartments was not impacted by the number of students committing to the Class of 2022—525, 25 more than Admissions anticipates matriculating—Matt Orlando, senior vice president for administration and treasurer of the College, said that the large incoming class did influence the decision.
“We’re converting it to become a chem-free apartment suite … just as a precautionary measure, as we look at the number of students depositing [for the Class of 2022], the number of students choosing to live off campus. There was a little bit of tightness,” said Orlando. “So we took that as sort of a risk-mitigation option.”
The properties will consist of four apartments and will house twelve students in two doubles and two quads. Each apartment will have its own living space, kitchen area and bathroom. The apartments will not go through renovations as they are already livable spaces, but they may be updated to adhere to safety codes.
The spaces were not available in the lottery this spring due to pending approval from the Brunswick Planning Board. The conversion will be voted on at the board’s May 8 meeting. Rendall said that ResLife will reach out to students who it believes may be interested, but is encouraging students to reach out if they are interested in the accommodation.
The College also hopes to break ground this summer on the new apartments for upperclass students on Park Row, which are planned to open for the fall of 2019. The plans for the apartments are another result of the working group’s recommendations, accompanying the cap on students living off campus.
The $15 million project includes four buildings, 16 apartments and 88 single bedrooms total. The College hopes to make the apartments 100 percent accessible as well as more heat and energy efficient.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the project during its May 11 meeting. Following the trustee vote, the Brunswick Planning Board must also approve the project. If approved, Gustafson House, which is currently on the site of the new apartments, will be demolished in mid-June and the College hopes to break ground on the project in August.