New UH dorms carry $61M price tag
A developer explains the project, which is set to be ready by '08
From the hallways and lounges cooled by Manoa Valley tradewinds, students living in a new $61 million, 813-bed dorm at the University of Hawaii will overlook one of two courtyards with a volleyball and basketball court, a small amphitheater and the wisps of white smoke coming from the grill at the barbecue area.
Those are some of the amenities planned for the first new dorm built at UH-Manoa since 1978.
Jason Wills, a senior vice president at American Campus Communities, the private company selected to build the dorm, said the company and the university have a tight timetable to finish the dorm so that students can move in by fall 2008.
Wills briefed the Board of Regents on what is being planned for the new dorms, although Jan Yokota, UH director of capital improvements, cautioned that the proposal is still preliminary and could change.
The proposed project will have two towers connected in a Z-shape design with a central corridor and elevators on Dole Street where Frear Hall now sits.
The developers will also build a walkway and redesign and landscape the road and entrance that leads to the other dorms around Frear.
RENDERINGS COURTESY OF AMERICAN CAMPUS COMMUNITIES
Sketches show the planned dorm at the Frear Hall site from Dole Street, above, and from an overhead view, below.
It is estimated that shared bedrooms in the new dorm will rent from a low of between $4,250 to $6,990 per academic year. The rents also assume American Campus Communities will manage the dorm, rather than the university.
Currently, similar shared dorm rooms rent for $3,410. The fee schedule for next year has not been set yet.
About 60 percent of the rooms will have private bedrooms, Wills said, adding that today's students seem to prefer that option and the extra amenities. Each room will also be air-conditioned, something students in focus groups emphasized that they wanted.
Regent Jane Tatibouet and some of the other regents stressed that they would like to see rents be as affordable as possible and that the university might want to consider fewer amenities.
"This may be luxury living compared to what they have at home," she said, emphasizing that she wants to make sure that UH can afford what it builds and continue to maintain it in the future.
UH interim President David McClain also questioned whether the $30,000 to $70,000 a year in energy savings justifies the additional $3 million in costs to redesign and construct the building to allow tradewinds to cool common areas of the dorm.
Wills said plans are still preliminary, and the company hopes to have final designs by March.
The time line calls for demolition of Frear Hall to start in April and approval of the building plans this summer. Construction on the new dorms could start in February 2007 with substantial completion by July so that students could move in the following month, Wills said.