GW plans two new residence halls

GW applied for permits in August for two new properties – a residence hall that will house 700 students and a row of townhouses planned to house 200 students, said Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak.

The residence hall across from the Health and Wellness Center on G Street between 23 and 24th streets will be apartment-style like New Hall but with a food court to alleviate pressure on J Street, he said.

What GW administrators call townhouse row was previously known as the “Greek Village,” a community to bring fraternities and sororities together. The townhouses will be built behind the Smith Center on 23rd Street between F and G streets.

Chernak said the general concept of the houses centered on Greek-letter life but could be used for other interest groups. Fraternities and sororities have shown mixed support for the concept.

Financial commitments for leasing would have to be arranged ahead of time, but GW would not force Greek-letter groups to live there if they are resistant to the idea, he said.

“It would be an interesting spice of life on the campus,” Chernak said. “It would give students a sense of community.”

The buildings will add to the increased activity on that area of campus brought by the completion of the Health and Wellness Center, he said.

Costs for a high-rise building are about $90,000 a bed, Chernak said, adding that architectural plans are in preliminary stages. That would put the price of the new residence hall at about $63 million. Townhouses are substantially cheaper, Chernak said.

The money for the building will come from the rent students pay, which will be about $7,490 a year, the same as New Hall, Chernak said. GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said the money would come from fundraising efforts.

The building will take at least two years to finish, Chernak said. The addition of 900 beds does not necessarily mean enrolling more students but instead providing University housing for more students, he said. About 49 percent of students live within campus boundaries.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which has opposed GW construction in the past, is aware of the new building plans, said Barbara Spillinger, former ANC chairwoman.

“I think it has to be done,” she said.

The lot marked for the residence hall is supposed to be a buffer between the campus and the community, according to the 1985 Campus Plan, Spillinger said.

“But now that they’ve got it, they purchased those houses and tore them down,” she said. “The University might as well build a dormitory there.”

University Senior Counsel Charles Barber said GW is waiting for the D.C. Zoning Commission to schedule a hearing this fall. These kinds of permits used to go to the Board of Zoning Adjustment, so the length of the application process is unknown. This is among the first campus plan projects that the zoning commission will hear, he said.
-Drew Wiseman contributed to this report

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