Jan 26th, 2004 @ 3:59 pm | Author: By Scarlet Gray, Times-Record Staff Writer
VCSU renovates residence hall
Valley City State University students will soon enjoy living in upgraded comfort.

VCSU began working on one of a series of residence hall upgrade projects. Campus officials recognized the university is in need of modernized student housing as the most recent new residence hall space was added in 1971.

Planning has been in the works for about two years to upgrade all the halls, if not by total renovation, then at least by refinishing. Comfortable and private student housing are important factors when choosing colleges, and student satisfaction surveys at VCSU indicated a student demand for upgraded housing conditions. By next fall, they will get it. Kolstoe Hall is being upgraded into modern suites.

As with all current VCSU residence halls, Kolstoe Hall is a traditional hall with double corridors, two-person rooms and group bathrooms. Kolstoe houses 138 students. A $2.8 million renovation project is underway to convert this hall into modern suites to house 114. Each suite will consist of two or three bedrooms, a living room and a private bathroom. Included in the project is a renovation of the entire first floor, a new elevator, central air conditioning, a fitness room and all new furnishings.

According to Vice President of Student Affairs Glen Schmaltz, most new residence hall construction on campuses these days follow the suite or apartment plan. Students are used to privacy and comfort. The suites will be more expensive than the traditional housing, but evidence shows students are willing to pay more for the comfort and amenities that will be found in Kolstoe Hall, Schmaltz said.

And Kolstoe will have comfort and amenities. The hall is conveniently located 20 yards away from the back entrance to McFarland Hall, a centrally-located campus building with classrooms and offices. The outside of Kolstoe may look as it always has, but inside will be totally different.

"It will look more like a hotel or nice apartment when you walk in," Schmaltz said.

The lobby will be more open with new tiles on the floors. To the right will be a student lounge, and beyond that a game room. The south side of the lobby will hold a partial wall which sets off a kitchen area. The southeast corner of the building will hold a fitness room containing space for floor exercises and space for fitness equipment.

The top three floors will contain the suites. Each room in the suites will contain Cable TV, telephones and wireless and wired Internet connections. New carpet and colors have been selected. The rooms will be furnished, and furniture selection is underway. A request for proposals is being prepared for furniture.

"A brand new laundry facility is also planned for every floor," Schmaltz added.

Students have been involved in all stages of planning. A committee of students worked with the architects and had a say in the design, decor and amenities.

One student involved, Jessica Benike, said if she were going to be returning to school next fall, she would want to live in that hall. However, she is graduating. But prospective students seem excited about it, she said. Benike gives campus tours to prospective students.

Most of the planning took place last summer. Bidding took place in the fall. Construction began in December. The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2004 and will be available to 114 upper class male and female students in the fall semester of 2004.

As housing falls under the department of student affairs, Schmaltz has had much to do with the residence hall upgrade project, but he credits much to Bill Ament, comptroller, for his work on the financial side of things, and Ron Pommerer, director of facility services, for overseeing the construction.

Foss & Associates of Fargo are the architects on the Kolstoe project; Scherr Construction of Valley City is general contractor; Manning Mechanical of Fargo is mechanical contractor and John’s Refrigeration and Electric of Valley City is the electrical contractor.

The renovation project is a totally auxiliary enterprise for the university, so no tax dollars or state funding was used. Campus housing is a self-funded operation, and this project was funded through selling bonds, Schmaltz said.

This article was printed in the Thursday, January 22, 2004 edition of the Valley City Times Record.

Written by Scarlet Gray, Times Record staff writer and a VCSU 2003 graduate.