Students arriving back to Richmond this fall saw a lot of changes the first time they entered campus from River Road. As they drove up the newly positioned road, the most striking addition was certainly the new Gateway Village apartment complex.
The complex features four four-story buildings with a total of 44 residences. Each apartment within the community has four single bedrooms, as well as two separate bathrooms and sinks, a full kitchen and a living area. The residences also feature keyless entry locks that allow students to open their door with a text message if they forget their SpiderCard.
A unique layout, compared to the townhouse-style University Forest Apartments, provides a fresh living space to the 176 seniors who reside in Gateway. While the university has high numbers of students who live on campus for all four years, Carolyn Bigler, assistant director of undergraduate housing, said the Gateway apartments might improve that number even more by creating sustainability in campus housing. “It provides an attractive option for seniors, and allows us to be more competitive with off-campus options,” Bigler said.
Bigler said one of the biggest reasons students were moving off-campus was for single bedrooms in an apartment-style space. Patrick Benner, associate dean of residence life, said the project had been shaped by student desires, specifically the layout of the apartment to include the four single bedrooms instead of two doubles.
Senior Scott Norris said, “It’s nice to have your own bedroom and a semi-separate bathroom, but still be able to live with three other people and have a comfortable living room space.”
Some students, however, feel the space of the apartment could have been better used. Senior Jared Ingersoll said, “The utility closet doesn’t need to be as big as it is. If they’re going to have it that big then we should at least be allowed to store things in it.”
While some residents have minor complaints, the overwhelming majority of feedback has been positive, Benner said. He said that while the construction team was still running through some small leftover things, the transition from construction site to residence had been a smooth one.
Benner also said the building of new residences including Gateway and elsewhere on campus wasn’t preparation for an increase in enrollment, but rather to decrease the bed count in other residence halls so they can be renovated with better living spaces.
The restructuring of campus won’t be done any time soon though, Bigler said Gateway Village was the beginning of the redevelopment of the entire south side of campus, with the hope that the River Road entrance will become the main way in to the university. Benner said that by the time construction was completed, everything from roads and sidewalks to buildings would have a smoother flow.
The next step in the process will be coming this fall, when the university will break ground on a new Welcome Center next to Lora Robbins Court behind the Gottwald Science Center.
Contact staff writer Victor Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org