Plans for on-campus apartments revealed

Living on campus, an obligation for first years and sophomores, may soon also be an exciting option for upperclassmen. Still in its planning stages, Redstone 2 is the working title of a 400-bed on-campus apartment complex set to be built by a local company, Redstone Commercial Group, Director of Development at Redstone Larry Williams, said. Dubbed on-campus independent student apartments, Redstone 2 will provide housing for upperclassmen who want the convenience of an on-campus location and the privacy of an off-campus apartment. The planned site is between Redstone and Athletic campuses, Williams said. Although the buildings will sit on university property, residents will not sign a housing contract with UVM. Instead, they will sign leases directly with the developer, SGA Vice President David Maciewicz said. “It is on University land and on campus but is being developed by a private firm, Redstone Commercial Group,” Maciewicz said. UVM is negotiating a ground lease with Redstone Group, Vice President of Student and Campus Life Tom Gustafson said. That way, instead of taking on debt, the University will be getting paid right off the bat. “The project is our commitment to UVM to build a minimum of 400 beds of new student housing for juniors, seniors and graduate students.” Williams said. “This project will provide the opportunity for a junior to stay on campus in a nice new apartment building.” With construction tentatively slated to begin this spring and finish in August 2012, this year’s first years and sophomores will be among the first residents. But will upperclassmen actually want to live on campus? Williams said he thinks they will. “Redstone surveyed all existing students this past summer, about 10,000, on what amenities students want,” he said. “We got about 1,500 replies. The responses will have a definite impact on the final design of the building. Also, we are meeting with SGA to continue to show people the project and get student input.” With only 400 beds, space is limited, but even those who take the more traditional route of renting an apartment downtown may still have something to be excited about. “Vacancy rate is less than one percent, not a healthy rate; this will help to open up housing within Burlington, off campus, for others,” Williams said. Sophomore Will Turner agreed. “I think that it’s a good idea because hopefully it will bring prices down for in-town apartments.” While one apartment complex will probably not change the market in a fundamental way, it is a start, and maybe the beginning of a larger trend, Turner said. But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the proposal. “As a student who has seen this campus undergo some serious transformations over the past five years, I feel that the administration is destroying what was once a beautiful campus,” junior Chris Michaels said. Regardless of your position, Redstone 2 is not a done deal. Before construction can begin, the plans will need to be approved by various local boards and committees, Burlington City Planning Administrator Ken Lerner said. They also have to conform to the rules set in place by Act 250, the Vermont Land Use and Development Act, Lerner said. This can be a lengthy process. “Once an application is submitted, it enters the review process which can take anywhere from at least three to four months to two years if it is appealed to environmental and the state Supreme Court,” he said.