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New housing plans announced

Several of the parking lots, gravel areas and outdated buildings that students walk past every day throughout Rogers Park will be transformed into new student dorms before the class of 2014 graduates, according to a university official.

Loyola’s Vice President of Capital Planning Wayne Magdziarz recently laid out the university’s current comprehensive plan to improve and expand student housing on the Lake Shore campus.

Within the next few years, he said, at least six current first year and upperclassmen residence halls will be decommissioned. In their place, six to seven buildings will be built, rehabbed or repurposed.

“Before the semester ends, there should be a pretty clear picture on where [the university’s plan] is going,” Magdziarz said.

The first major move in the plan is shutting down Saint Louis Hall at the end of the 2010-11 school year, followed by a full gutting and renovation of an existing apartment building in Loyola’s ownership at 6610 N. Sheridan.

Magdziarz said this site and its eventual 300 extra beds will operate as both new upperclassmen dorms as well as a “swing space” for displaced residents of old residence halls that have “come off line,” or closed.

“[The new hall] would be comparable to Marquette,” Magdziarz said. “It could even be turned around and sold after more construction is completed, as it has 74 parking spots around it.”

Creighton, Seattle, Xavier, Holy Cross and Rockhurst are all dorms Loyola has identified as buildings the university will look to close in stages during the next two to three years.

To replace them, it has been proposed that two new first year halls be built in the parking lots directly east of Simpson Hall and south of Wright Hall. In turn, Regis Hall, which currently houses freshmen, will be opened to sophomores.

“We want to get the freshmen out of Regis,” Magdziarz said. “[Our surveys have said] that they are unhappy with it, and it was originally meant to be a sophomore building to begin with.”

Loyola is also planning on a new, building similar to the Morgan, a mixed-use residential and retail space in the currently empty lot on Loyola Avenue and a living space for upperclassmen, faculty and staff along Albion. Both would be “off-grid,” meaning that residents would not be forced to enroll in a meal plan and would sign a full 12-month lease with prices competitive to local apartments.

Magdziarz said that many details are still being worked on, but that the Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J. will provide a more comprehensive plan during his State of the University address in February.

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