New York based commercial real estate development and construction company, Wilmorite Inc., is currently seeking approval from the town of New Paltz to begin the operation and construction of a two-phase, 210-unit housing project for students, faculty and staff on 50 acres of land adjacent to the campus.
Due to the need for additional student housing, the SUNY New Paltz Foundation – a not-for-profit foundation whose mission is to support the college – created Goshawk, LLC as a limited liability company to purchase the undeveloped land in 2007, said Executive Director of the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, Sally Cross in a letter to the Town Board of New Paltz.
“The major benefits to the campus will be to provide apartment-style housing, which the campus does not currently offer and increase the number of students who live close enough to be able to walk, instead of drive, to their classes and other campus activities,” said Cross.
Vice President of Student Affairs David Rooney said that even though the apartments would be adjacent to the campus, they are off-campus and run by an independent agency, without the normal structure of on-campus residence halls.
Wilmorite, which has developed similar projects for Rochester Institute of Technology and Syracuse University, submitted the conceptual plan for the proposed project called “Park Point Place at New Paltz” to the Town of New Paltz on November 2010 said Jackie DiStefano, vice president of finance and administration.
The three primary elements of the plan included 20 buildings in total, 17 for students and three for faculty with a total of 780 beds, 720 for students and 60 for faculty, a clubhouse that would include a fitness room, lounge and management offices and a maintenance shop.
SUNY New Paltz currently houses just under 3,000 full-time undergraduate students, according to Rooney.
“We’d like everybody who wants to live on campus to be able to, but we can’t build residence halls as fast as the demand for on-campus housing has grown,” he said.
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SUNY New Paltz transfer students are not offered on-campus housing, but Rooney said the transfer population could benefit a lot from this project.
“I think we do disservice our transfer students by kind of forcing them to go beyond the campus boundaries and really not engage with the campus as much as I think they would like to or had the opportunity to if they lived on campus,” said Rooney.
Although the development is being specifically designed to house SUNY New Paltz students who are unable to live on-campus due to overcapacity, a portion of the project is dedicated to accommodate housing for New Paltz faculty.
“…Convenient and affordable housing, especially for new employees, will help the College continue to attract and retain great faculty who can more readily participate in the life [of students] both in the classroom and importantly out of the classroom,” said DiStefano.
Jade Rankin, an education graduate student, said it would be great if faculty actually took advantage of proximate off-campus housing.
“When we do have severe weather, if the housing is that close then it would enable the faculty members to still come to campus to hold class, so in that respect it’s good,” said Rankin.
In his November faculty report, Interim President Donald Christian said cost and availability of local housing creates a challenge for many new faculty and staff, that end up living significant distances away from campus.
“This project will provide affordable townhouse-style apartments at the edge of campus,” said Christian. “We believe that the availability of proximate housing will assist us in our continuing efforts to recruit top-quality candidates who wish to work and live in the New Paltz community.”
Once Wilmorite drafts an Environmental Impact Statement (EPI), the Town Planning Board will review that statement and recommend it to the Town Board, according to Cross. The approval process will take approximately 18 months to complete and Wilmorite hopes to begin the project a few months after the end of the process.
“As they look through this approval process, it is just a concept,” said DiStefano. “It’s like a nine-inning game and they are just starting.”