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New places to live at SU

After 42 years without a new residence hall, the Syracuse campus has three new living spaces within its borders.

One year ago, the skeleton frame of a building stood at the corner of University Place and Comstock Avenue. Today, a state-of-the-art living facility named after one of Syracuse University’s greatest legends stands in that very same spot.

Ernie Davis Hall, which opened in August 2009, is the first residence hall to be built by Syracuse University since Brewster-Boland Hall in 1966. The new dorm is one of a trio of new residences arising throughout the Syracuse campus.

Campus Housing Guide

See interactive maps and stats for each of SU's 28 residence halls, including Ernie Davis Hall (shown above).

North Campus | South Campus

After a 42-year drought with no new dorms, three residences, one dorm and two apartments, have appeared on the corners of the SU campus. In addition to Ernie Davis Hall, the University Village Apartments on Colvin, located on the fringes of SU’s South Campus, also opened in August 2009.

The Park Point Apartments, which will open in the fall of 2010, are currently under construction.

The university erected Ernie Davis Hall in response to increasing enrollment figures, said Bill Longcore, associate director of the Office of Residence Life. As total enrollment has increased, the university has needed more beds for its students.

The total number of students attending SU in the 2009-2010 academic year is 19,638, according to the Division of Advancement and External Affairs. Of those, 13,040 are full-time undergraduates.

All About the Benjamins

One year and $50 million later, the newest campus dorm arrived. Idriss Njike, residence director at Ernie Davis, said the students were patient with the construction of the dorm, and they can now reap the rewards.

“Now they are very pleased,” Njike said. “They were very pleased from the get-go with the amenities and the facilities that the building has.”

Longcore said that the university borrowed the funding to build Ernie Davis Hall. A0s a result, he said, the motivation to construct the dorm was not financial.

“You don’t really go into these kind of projects thinking about how you’re going to profit,” Longcore said. “How long does it take 240 students living in housing to pay back $50 million? It’s a while.”

In the cases of University Village and Park Point, however, the university leased the land to developers who are in business to turn a profit. Longcore said there was more of a financial motivation for the university with regard to the construction of University Village and Park Point, but that the developers approached SU, not the other way around.

A Place to Hang Your Hat

With the construction of the three new living spaces, hundreds of students now have another place to hang their hats on campus. Ernie Davis Hall has a maximum capacity of 250 students, according to the Office of Housing, Meal Plan and I.D. Card Services.

Longcore said that University Village holds approximately 430 people, while the Park Point apartments, which will be occupied mostly by graduate students, will have over 200 beds.

In addition, 260 students from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the neighboring campus to SU, currently live in the three Skyhalls on South Campus. But ESF is in the process of constructing its own new dorm on its own campus, which will free up more space for SU students in the Skyhalls.

As a result of these maneuvers, SU likely has enough room for its undergraduates.

“I would not expect to see another new residence hall built here anytime soon,” Longcore said. “There’s sufficient housing for students for the next few years.”

Built to Last

One of the major reasons behind the 42-year gap between new residence halls is that Syracuse University constructed many of its dorms in the 1950s and 1960s with the intent to make them last for decades. Flint, Marion, Shaw and Watson Halls were all built in 1956 or earlier and are still inhabited by students to this day.

“We build buildings around here to last. We’re trying to build 100 year buildings,” Longcore said. “They are incredibly sturdy and have a long life. We pay them off, and then there is no money put into them other than renovation.”

Longcore added that companies like Allen and O’Hara, which built the University Village Apartments and develop properties all across the country, invest in shorter-term prospects. They build the homes, make money, then in 30 years can decide to tear it all down and rebuild.

Syracuse University’s dorms are generally erected through commercial construction, which uses concrete, Longcore said, whereas properties such as University Village are built with wood frames.

They Really, Really Like It

One of those concrete goliaths, Ernie Davis Hall, will soon wrap up its first year. Students, parents and administrators have had varying reactions to the building. Generally, the feedback has been positive, but the journey to comfort and fine living was not an easy one.

When classes began in the fall semester, the fitness center, dining hall and convenience store that now occupy the dorm were not yet built. The pillars and walls, which are now covered in blue and orange paint depicting images of and facts about Ernie Davis, were bare white.

Doors were not finished, and windy drafts blew threw the lobby. The pool and ping-pong tables were nowhere to be found. The dozen board games available to rent had not yet arrived.

But now, the students in Ernie Davis Hall have nearly every creature comfort and convenience one could want.

“Now people are pretty content,” said Michael Clore, a senior political science and Spanish major. “You’ve got everything you need. You’re not really left wanting for anything. Right now, things are good. This is pretty much everything I would have expected.”


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