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A rendering of the future 596-bed residence building.
courtesy LM Architectural Group

New residence building under way

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A new residence building might answer a few student prayers once completed in spring 2011.

The proposed 596-bed building would be built in Lot 50, next to the Dining Centre. Construction will start in April.

The suites will have three private rooms sharing a bathroom, kitchenette and a living space. There will also be a few two-room suites available.

"This is a model that has been used quite extensively in Canada with quite a bit of success and acceptance," said University of Calgary capital planning and development vice-president Bob Ellard. "On the lowest level, facing 24th avenue, there's about 20,000 square feet of retail space that we will rent out."

He said the space will be used for a small grocery store or convenience store and other shops that will be available to the surrounding community.

He added that the building will be fully wheelchair accessible.

U of C VP students Anne Tierney said the university worked with the Students' Union and Residence Services to determine what students wanted most in their residence buildings.

"Everytime we build a new residence we look for good models that are out there at other universities," she said.

There are currently 1,535 beds for students on campus. The 596 beds in this building, along with 125 from the Dr. Fok Ying Tung International House, will bring the total to 2,256 beds.

However, Norquay, Brewster and Castle will be closed in the next few years, equalling a loss of 225 beds.

The new building will house mainly third- and fourth-year students. First-years will continue to live in Rundle or Kananaskis Hall.

SU president Dalmy Baez was glad that the university listened to the recommendation for 600 more spaces that was made in last year's students affordable housing document.

"In all honesty, we're really excited to see this all come to fruition," said Baez. "Student housing has been an issue for quite some time now."

The SU is also working on an Inter-institutional Residence Study to measure the feasibility of sharing a residence building with other post-secondary schools, but have run into troubles recently. Baez explained that the city was not co-operating as much as anticipated with zoning issues surrounding the project.

Tierney said room rates for fall 2011 won't be set until that spring. The board of governors has okayed the project despite the university's current financial constraints, but Tierney is still waiting to hear from the provincial government.

"We have put in our proposal for our business plan and our request for funding, but that's pending right now with the government," she explained. "We don't have the final approval yet. If for any reason we don't get the borrowing money, we wouldn't be able to build the building."

She added that the university is optimistic the funding will come through.

The building is expected to cost $57 million including furniture and appliances.

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