Board gives green light for new grad student housing

On Jan. 28 the Buildings and Properties Committee of the Cornell University Board of Trustees approved the selection of a developer for a new housing complex on the site of the current Maplewood Park Apartments. Pending municipal approvals, the project could accommodate more than double the number of residents who currently live at Maplewood.

National collegiate housing provider EdR was selected as the site developer, and the board committee also voted to enter into a pre-development agreement outlining a framework for Cornell to retain ownership of the land, but with EdR financing, constructing and managing the new housing project. Groundbreaking is expected to begin this fall for a summer 2018 opening. While its exact layout, including building and unit types, have not been finalized, the new complex is expected to accommodate about 850 students and family members.

“We are committed to increasing affordable housing for graduate and professional students that provides a living environment supportive of this stage in their academic and professional careers and of their families as well,” said Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “This new complex will provide students with quality residential space that will foster a sense of community and encourage dialogue and connections among students in diverse academic programs.”

Last spring the university announced the decision to close Maplewood Park at the end of July 2016 due to anticipated costs for repairs and upgrading the buildings, which were built in 1989.

“We have been working with the current residents of Maplewood Park to explore alternative housing options for when the complex closes,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “These conversations already have helped inform our understanding of graduate student living and studying needs. Throughout this semester, we will hold additional meetings with our graduate and professional students to gather input as an architectural firm begins to design indoor and outdoor layouts.”

Jeremy Thomas, senior director of real estate, said EdR is known for its on-campus revitalization and innovation efforts, constructing quality, long-lasting, sustainable buildings and developments that meet the expectations of today’s students. “Our goals for this site are to foster a close-knit neighborhood feel, while connecting this community through walkways and outdoor spaces to the university and surrounding neighborhoods, including the East Hill Plaza area where we are planning future mixed-use development. We are confident in EdR’s ability to fulfill these goals, creating a walkable and sustainable community that is sensitive to the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said.

Thomas said EdR and Cornell also will begin meeting with neighborhood groups and local officials, the Ithaca Landlord Association, the Ithaca City School District and others to discuss possible impacts on neighborhoods, schools and the community.

“We look forward to working with the Cornell University team and local communities on this exciting venture,” said EdR President Tom Trubiana. “Working together, we will deliver high-quality, sustainable and affordable housing that fosters a sense of community and supports Cornell students’ pursuit of their advanced degrees and academic goals.”

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Melissa Osgood