East Village plans may ax apartment complex

Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer
The Arbors Apartments may be not be available in spring 2012 if plans for a new residential community are approved.

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Students living in the East Arbors Apartments and Arbors Apartments buildings one and two were recently notified by e-mail that their apartments will not be available for the spring semester of the 2011-2012 school year because of possible plans to construct a new residential complex in the area where these apartments currently stand.

Though the plans for the complex, known as the East Village Residential Community, have not been approved, Jeff Doyle, dean for student learning and engagement, said students should be made aware of the situation up front in case the plans for the complex do work out.

“If it is approved, then we figured it’d be better not to have students sign up for next fall now and then tell them they can’t stay there for the year instead of telling them what we told them [in the e-mail],” Doyle said.

In the e-mail, students were told that the Baylor-owned apartments would be open for the fall 2011 semester, but not the entire 2011-2012 school year. They were also offered priority over the general student population in choosing a new housing assignment if they would like to remain on campus for the 2011-2012 school year.

“I think East Arbors in particular, it’s become a really great upper division community, so I think there’s a lot of students that are sad it isn’t going to be an option,” Terri Garrett, director for Campus Living and Learning, said. “But what we’re doing for those students that are being displaced, we really are working to help them if they want to stay on campus, to find an option that’s going to be viable for them. They really are our priority at this point.”

Although the plans for the East Village Residential Community are currently in the program design process and are not slated for presentation to the Baylor Board of Regents until February, Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, said it was important to be proactive in dealing with students living in the Arbors.

“We’re trying to be proactive so that we can minimize any disruption to our students’ living arrangements as we move through the various approvals for this project,” Jackson said.

Although the e-mail to students stated that the apartments would be unavailable “due to construction of the new East Village Residential Community,” an official decision to build the new complex has not been made, Jackson said.

“Unfortunately the letter was written in such a way it sounded like the project has been approved,” Jackson said. “It’s a possibility, and we’re working through the steps.”

If the program design concepts for the new complex are approved by the Board of Regents in February, the project will move on to the next phase — architectural design and construction planning. Then information obtained during that phase will be presented to the board for approval. If approval is granted, site preparations can begin. Jackson said it is hoped that the project will receive this approval by early fall 2012, if not sooner.

If plans to build the new complex where the East Arbors Apartments and Arbors Apartments buildings one and two currently stand are approved, approximately 140 beds will be lost by the destruction of those apartments. Jackson said the university is doing its best to minimize the loss of beds, and that the plans slated for presentation to the board of regents also include potentially considering turning other Baylor-owned apartments into apartment-style living areas for students if needed.

The proposed plans for the East Village Residential Community recommend creating a multi-building complex containing 1,000 beds and a dining hall. The need for space for a large complex was one reason for considering building the complex where the East Arbors Apartments complex and Arbors buildings one and two currently stand, Jackson said.

“To build a complex that would eventually encompass 1,000 beds and would have the space to do a dining hall is a very significant piece of property,” he said.