Georgia State leases out two dorms and prepares to open a new one

Piedmont Central will be opening doors this fall. Photo by Lauren Booker | The Signal
The new housing facility on Piedmont Avenue will open its doors next fall. Photo by Lauren Booker | The Signal
The new housing facility on Piedmont Avenue will open its doors next fall.
Photo by Lauren Booker | The Signal

While Georgia State’s Piedmont Avenue bound 11 story high residence hall nears completion, Patton Hall and the University Commons have been managed to Corvias Group, a Rhode Island based development firm.

On May 14, 2015, the Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia (USG) agreed to have the two dorms be managed by Corvias, along with residence halls on nine other campuses throughout Georgia, according to the New Housing Lease Agreement obtained through an Open Records Request.

Randy Brown, director for Georgia State’s University Housing, said he believes Patton Hall and the Commons were bought by Corvias to help alleviate their costs of building new housing.

“They were able to come up with the money. So we were able to partner on this and figure out that we are able to have the capital and money to get new housing,” he said. ”They are coming up with all the money for it.”

Partnering for housing

Sonja Roberts, USG’s communications specialist, said Corvias was chosen as the developer for the Public Private Partnership (P3) with the USG in November 2014 through a competitive bid process. She said the goal of P3 is to lower the costs of housing for students.

With P3, Corvias will develop, build, manage and maintain residence halls in nine of USG’s 31 colleges, according to Corvias’ website.

Roberts said the partnership will also provide students with access to safe, quality and affordable dorms.

“It is an on-going challenge to build and finance large projects such as student housing and keep costs affordable. The USG is always looking at ways to keep costs down and still provide a quality education and student services,” she said.

Andrea Jones, spokesperson for Georgia State, said there won’t be any significant changes for students living in residence halls, and they will continue to receive residence life programming.

Georgia State will also continue to control the residence life aspect of all the dorms, according to Brown. Corvias is in charge of the maintenance and custodial functions of Patton Hall, the Commons and the upcoming housing facility.

“We maintain the occupancy or the assignments component of it, the residence life, which consists of your RAs, assistant directors, associate director, living learning communities, all of those programmatic types of elements,” he said. “We also maintain the IT services for all buildings on campus.”

He said housing prices for residents will not be affected by Corvias’ acquisition of Patton Hall and the Commons, because the buildings have a projected cost.

“Ultimately the Board of Regents have control over what the rates are. It is really sensitive to percent increases and while also recognizing what the campus needs are financially in order to pull off the projection for the year,” he said.

Preparing for the new dorm

Next fall, the new residence hall will welcome in an influx of students, filling approximately 1,052 beds. University Housing is also considering to let upperclassmen stay in the housing facility, according to Brown.

“We are thinking a large designation for first-year students. But there are a couple room types that are appealing to upperclassmen students,” he said. “We are going to play around with what that looks like, as well as some living learning communities that can have some mixed uses.”

He said Corvias’ design concept for the residence hall hinges on the ideas of greet, meet, chat and gather, and the rooms will be similar Patton Hall.

When opening the door to the suite, there will be a shower on one side and a sink and toilet on the other side, Brown said. Then there would be two doors going into separate rooms, which could be shared or single person occupancy.

“We’ve learned now that basically three people in a shared space is two sinks. Four people can use the restroom functions and not impede on somebody else,” he said.

Rashidat Akande, a Georgia State senior, said she would consider living in the new dorm since the bathrooms will not be connected like Patton Hall. However, she said upperclassmen may not make the upcoming residence hall their first choice.

“Once you become an upperclassmen, you don’t want to live on campus anymore,” she said. “You kinda just want your own space, but I don’t really think any upperclassmen would want to stay over there.”

The new housing facility’s suite setup was selected by last year’s housing staff and Corvias, because they viewed it as being cost efficient, unlike the Commons and the University Lofts’ apartment style dorms, according to Brown.

“We are still able to keep a small square footage while also opening up the bathroom functions to multiple users simultaneously,” he said.

Since the dorm might be open to students of all classifications, Brown said the types of programming for residence life could vary based on first-year students and upperclassmen population sizes.

“We also have to be open to any of our halls that may shift or change depending on what the needs of the students are,” he said. “So we are always constantly assessing and making tweaks and subtle changes to the initially way we conceptualize it.”

Brown said Corvias is planning for laundry rooms to have three washers and dryers on each floor. Through design, the laundry rooms will be right beside a gathering area, where a microwave, TV and sitting area will be.

“They put windows on the laundry rooms of this new hall so you can see and sit right outside of the laundry room and watch it. So they have built it into this kind of greet space,” he said. “It will be a social environment where you can hangout, watch a little TV and check your clothes.”

On Nov. 11, University Housing gauged the student body to hear their opinions of possible furniture options for the new residence hall. The chair selection included a red bouncy stool, a chair similar to a spinning top and a bean bag chair.

Akande said the chairs seemed creative, but felt uncomfortable.

“As a student, I feel like you should feel comfortable in your environment. You want somewhere where you can just lounge and relax,” she said.

The search for new residence hall staff will begin next semester, and the new dorm will need about 30 resident assistants (RA), Brown said.

“Typically we do placement of the residence hall staff in early to mid spring,” he said. “If we place one of the retained hall directors in the new hall, then we will not go search for a hall director at the new hall.”

Brown said University Housing hopes to build another housing facility in the future, but the timing will be dependent on the size of the wait list. He said last year’s wait list was approximately 1,200.

“We are still pulling together some data to see how many people end up dropped off the waiting list,” he said. “As well as pulling together some historical data to kinda see if we could how much the waitlist is grown every year so that we can forecast how much it should grow this next year.”