On May 12, the University of North Georgia (UNG) and Corvias Campus Living broke ground on The Commons, a new, four-story residence hall on the Dahlonega Campus that will house approximately 536 students. In addition to representatives from UNG and Corvias, a ceremony held on the construction site drew local government officials, representatives from the University System of Georgia and community members.
"Many people have worked very hard to make this a gorgeous, inviting facility that will mirror the beauty that you see in this town and on this campus," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "I want to thank the legislature, the Board of Regents, the USG staff and our partners, at Corvias – we know this will benefit students for years to come."
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Scheduled to open in fall 2016, the new residence hall will be located at the intersection of West Main Street and Walker Drive in Dahlonega – across the street from the UNG Dining Hall. The project will bring the total number of residence halls on the Dahlonega Campus to nine, including Donovan Hall, Lewis Annex, Lewis Hall, North Georgia Suites, Owen Hall, and the military residence halls Liberty, Patriot and Gaillard.
Mac McConnell, senior vice president for business and finance at UNG, thanked the university's students and explained the need to provide modern facilities.
"Key to our ability to provide the highest level of curricular and co-curricular instruction is a high-quality living and learning environment," he said. "Residential housing is a key component in what makes our university special. With the completion of these 536 beds, we will assure this level of quality continues for decades to come."
Michaela Climer, president of the Student Government Association, said students are excited about the new residence hall.
"Living on campus encourages individual responsibility with a safety net, so you have resident assistants to support you in what I think is the biggest transition of people's lives," said Climer, who also is a resident assistant. "It's a really cool opportunity that we get to provide, and I love being able to say that I was a small part of that."
Enrollment on the Dahlonega Campus has grown steadily from 3,863 students in fall 2001 to 6,648 students in fall 2014. Currently, UNG's Dahlonega Campus can house 2,230 students in on-campus housing, including 782 cadets. The new residence hall addresses a housing shortage on the Dahlonega Campus that currently means students – not including cadets – who wish to live on campus must participate in a lottery for on-campus housing.
Dr. Janet Marling, vice president for student affairs at UNG, asked those gathered for the ceremony to imagine how the spot will look in 18 months when the project is complete.
"If you can envision the life that will be lived on this space and think about the impact that some bricks and mortar will have on the lives of our students," Marling said. "A building just feels like a structure, but a residence hall is a home and it's going to be a home for more than 500 of our students."
The Commons will feature suite-style living and the main floor in one building will have a large, multi-purpose room. There also will be a common area on each floor that combines laundry, lounge and kitchen areas. A unique feature of the two-building residence hall will be a rooftop programming space that affords views of the mountains.
Statewide, Corvias Campus Living is funding $548 million dollars to build the new housing and to retire the debt on the existing housing. About $325 million will be used to retire the University System's existing debt on current, existing student housing.
Under the agreement with Corvias Campus Living, the university owns the land where the complex will be built. Corvias will finance, construct and maintain the building, allowing the university to focus on residence life services and security. The goal of the partnership is to ensure that students have a positive on-campus living experience that is conducive to academic success.
Geoff Eisenacher, vice president of partnership development for Corvias Campus Living, said his company looks forward to continuing the work started with the many partners involved in the project.
"The picture depicts more than a great building, it is a representation of true collaboration and a true partnership," Eisenacher said, referring to an artist's rendering displayed at the ceremony. "Thank you to President Jacobs, our partners at the Board of Regents and the leadership team here at the university for your dedication to this ongoing and innovative partnership."
The residence hall project at UNG is part of USG's $517 million plan for Corvias Campus Living to develop 3,683 new beds by fall 2016 and manage 6,195 existing beds of on-campus housing for nine institutions with the USG for the next 65 years.