Officials look to build new MVC residence hall

More students may be calling Mount Vernon home in future years.

In May, University officials will seek approval from the Board of Trustees to build a new residence hall housing freshmen and sophomores on the Foxhall campus. Executive Vice President Louis Katz stressed that the facility is still in the early design stages, with its number of beds still uncertain.

The hall may cause a double-digit increase in the percentage of freshmen living at Mount Vernon; currently, about 1 in 6 freshmen live there.

“We’re not looking to maximize the number of beds,” Katz said. “We’re looking for the appropriate number of beds.”

If the University’s highest decision-making body approves the new hall in May, officials hope to fast-track its construction soon after finalizing design plans and meeting with Foxhall community members. The University generally enjoys better relations with its Foxhall neighbors than with Foggy Bottom residents, partly because the Mount Vernon Campus is enclosed. The campus’ residential zoning classification may expedite city approval of the dorm.

A new Mount Vernon dorm would help the University comply with a city order requiring it to house 70 percent of its students – including all freshmen and sophomores – on campus or outside Foggy Bottom by fall 2006 (it currently houses about 60 percent of students within these boundaries). Failing to meet the order renders GW unable to build non-residential facilities.

While the new hall would not be built by 2006, it would help meet officials’ goal of staying well above the 70 percent mark in future years, Katz said. Construction has started on an F Street dorm that may put GW over the mark, depending on enrollment figures in 2006.

GW acquired Mount Vernon in 1999 from a women’s college and has tried to make it an attractive place to live for its almost 500 freshmen residents. The new hall would likely have dining facilities, meeting rooms and academic classrooms, Katz said.

New Mount Vernon beds would not decrease the likelihood that part of the former GW Hospital site will be used for residential purposes, Katz said. University officials are looking to build a multipurpose facility with offices, shops and possibly academic and residential space.

Katz said officials are still weighing the future of the Hall on Virginia Avenue, a dorm outside campus boundaries that cannot house freshmen starting in fall 2006. The University could make a number of moves, including converting HOVA’s rooms into singles; performing renovations to make it more suitable for upperclassmen, which generally want kitchens and living rooms; and selling the property.

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