UMass Dartmouth digs in to new campus housing
Construction has officially begun on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s first major project in decades: a $134 million first-year residential housing complex.
University officials celebrated the kickoff to the two-year project with a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 30. What is now a parking lot will soon give way to a two-building, 267,500 square-foot dormitory complex and a 38,000 square-foot dining commons.
“This construction site represents very important progress and momentum to the students, faculty, and staff of UMass Dartmouth,” said Chancellor Robert E. Johnson. “On this site we recognize that UMass Dartmouth is moving forward into an era of change and progress.”
The complex, which officials plan to open in time for the start of fall classes in 2020, will house 1,210 first year students. The 800-seat dining hall will be open to the whole campus.
The project will be built through a public-private partnership with developer Greystar, meaning that the project has no public funding and will not add the the university’s debt.
“Our students, faculty, and staff deserve this change and progress,” Johnson said. “We are committed to their success and the success of the entire South Coast region.”
Many speakers at the event said that the construction will bring improve the quality of housing, so that student life can match the high quality of the academics at the school.
“The best days for UMass Dartmouth are yet to come,” said Martin Meehan, President of the University of Massachusetts. “This is going to be a great project and a great transformation of UMass Dartmouth.”
The project is the first new housing built on the 710-acre campus since the completion of the Woodland upperclassmen apartment complex in 2005. It will replace the existing first-year housing complex, located outside of Ring Road, which were built in the 1970s and are in dire need of replacement.
Both Johnson and Meehan thanked the many legislators, local officials, and staff members who have propelled the project into being. The university is simultaneously working on a $54 million renovation of the Science and Engineering building — a project supported by $25 million in public funding.
The two projects are the first phase of the campus master plan, and represent the first major investment in the campus since the completion of the Claire T. Carney Library in 1980. Future components of the master plan include upgrades to academic buildings and the Campus Center, and roadway improvements.
“It’s not just a dorm, it’s a home,” said Shari Flanders, a senior residence assistant and 2018 graduate who is currently pursuing her MBA at UMass Dartmouth. Flanders said that the project demonstrates the university’s commitment to the whole student.
Construction has already begun on the project and will continue (weather permitting) throughout the winter. Lot 7 will be closed, although some parking will exist around the new buildings after completion.