Demolition has begun at Mercyhurst University to make way for the new $25 million suite-style residence hall.
Back on April 27th of this year, Mercyhurst University President, Michael T. Victor, announced the construction of the residence hall. He informed the public during a news conference that the project will involve demolition of six apartment structures at the south end of Briggs and Lewis Streets. In its place, construction of a 148,000 square foot, U-shaped building that will house an estimated 350 sophomore students.
In addition to 90 suites, plans for the building include a large community space on the first floor that will make room for a new dining venue and exercise facility. The new housing is expected to open in time for the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.
“We have generated a renewed spirit and vitality at Mercyhurst, introduced new academic programs, excelled in fundraising, and engaged our campus and greater Erie community in innovative programs designed to move Mercyhurst and Erie forward,” Victor said. “These factors, combined with other initiatives, have led to increased student enrollment and retention and the demand for more and better student housing. It’s a great time to be at Mercyhurst.”
Victor noted that the university’s housing policy, which he enacted more than a year ago, requires enrolled students from outside Erie to live on campus. Phasing in the measure over the next few years, Victor said his administration is committed to re-imagining residence halls to better meet the needs of today’s students.
“It’s all about the student experience,” he said. “Mercyhurst is a beautiful residential college and we believe strongly that living on campus promotes health and safety, facilitates diversity and inclusion, and integrates the residential, academic and social aspects of students’ lives.”
In support of that experience, the university has hired The Westminster Group, 2601 W. 26th St., as project developer. Westminster and its owner, Michael J. Redlawsk, are not new to Mercyhurst, having overseen the design of Frances Warde Hall, the freshman residence hall on the south campus, just east of Tullio Field, which opened in Fall 2009.
The same kind of innovation that is the hallmark of Warde Hall – large-sized accommodations with tiled bathrooms, an exercise center, multimedia rooms, laundry facilities and a convenience story – will mark development of the new suite-style residence, but on an even grander scale.
Plans for the new residence include 90 spacious and well-appointed suites, each accommodating four students in two bedrooms with two full baths, a common living room and a snack prep area. The first floor is designed to provide a large community space that will make room for a new dining venue on campus, an exercise facility, a potential health center office, security office, mail room and other uses still to be determined. Victor said the university will engage students to provide input in planning some of the specialized areas to be offered on-site.
This is the second major building project under Victor, who has been president just shy of two years. The first was the renovation of Egan cafeteria into what is now Grotto Commons, the campus’ main dining facility.