GW creates more housing

GW has found housing for almost all freshmen after enrolling a class about 300 students bigger than expected, University officials said.

The University will convert 70 doubles in the Hall on Virginia Avenue and 50 doubles in Thurston Hall to triples to house some of the 300 unanticipated freshmen, Director of Media Relations Gretchen King said.

GW leased 80 rooms last week in a three-year agreement with the Pennsylvania House apartment building at 2424 Pennsylvania Ave. to ease the housing crunch. Upperclassmen who did not get the room of their choice in the housing lottery will be offered the apartments, which hold two to three people and include kitchens.

The University is also finalizing agreements with at least one other area building to lease spaces for undergraduate housing this week, said Robert Chernak, Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services.

Universities gauge the number of expected students by predicting the admissions yield rate, or percentage of accepted students who will decide to enroll. GW expected a yield similar to previous years, about 29 percent, but 36 percent of admitted students accepted offers for the coming school year.

Chernak said GW has used the Pennsylvania House to accommodate large classes in the past. The building offers extended-stay housing in efficiencies, which cost $2,100 a month, and one-bedroom apartments, which cost $2,500 a month, according to the property’s Web site.

Officials in the Pennsylvania House corporate office said it is “common practice” to offer a discount on rent for multiple rooms, and there is no limit to the number of tenants allowed in a unit.

Chernak said GW will offer the apartments, mostly efficiencies, as doubles for sophomores and juniors, who will pay $7,100 to $7,300 a year each to live there. He said the University sent eligible students an e-mail this week and will give them about two weeks to decide to switch their housing.

King said the building will offer all the amenities students get in residence halls. Information Systems and Services will upgrade the rooms to provide a phone line for each student and either data dial-up or ethernet access. The apartments already provide cable television and housekeeping.

Chernak said GW will convert 102 of the building’s 126 rooms to University housing before classes start Aug. 27.

Pennsylvania House resident James McCleod said this year is much different from the last time GW used the building to house students. GW leased space for about 30 students before the 1997 housing lottery.

“Instead of being a relatively small portion of the residents, (this time) they will become the vast majority,” said McCleod, who has lived in the Pennsylvania House since 1978. “I see that as a negative for older residents who are not used to living with students.”

McCleod said GW promised not to buy the Pennsylvania House for student housing during campus plan hearings last year.

“I guess they didn’t technically buy the building, they’re just occupying the building,” he said.

About 30 people live in the Pennsylvania House year round, McCleod said, adding that he sees an disturbing trend after GW took over the Aston Hall building by leasing rooms. The Pennsylvania House is managed by the same corporate office as Aston Hall was when it became University housing in 1999.

GW first leased the Aston, an apartment-style hotel, to house extra students for the 1996-97 academic year. The University leased 60 rooms when it was surprised by a freshman class of 1,700 students, a jump of almost 300 students from the previous year.

Chernak said the Pennsylvania House lease is only a temporary solution to clear current housing waiting lists and find room for extra freshmen.

Construction on the new Elliott School of International Affairs at 1957 E St., which will provide about 200 more campus beds, could face a delay in its fall 2002 completion date after the D.C. Board of Zoning

Adjustment requested design changes (See story, p. 2). Completion of a 183-bed addition to Somers Hall at the Mount Vernon Campus is scheduled for spring 2001 after construction delays pushing it past the fall projection.

Pennsylvania House management sent a letter to residents June 7 notifying them that all furnished apartments had been rented to GW from Aug. 15 through 2004, and asked tenants to “view this occupancy positively.”

“Time will tell,” McCleod said.

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