Students attending Lourdes College this fall are being offered more than a place to study.
For the first time in its 52-year history, the college will provide its own housing for students who want to live close to the campus.
Being offered are 62 one and two-bedroom apartments at the Wickford Woods complex off McCord Road and Brint Road in Sylvania, about eight minutes' walk from Lourdes. The apartments will house up to 120 students and are being offered primarily to new students who live more than 35 miles away.
Lourdes recently purchased the entire 15-building complex on Parkgate Place in the Wickford Woods complex for around $7 million. The complex will be renamed Lourdes Commons.
Initially Lourdes will rent apartments from just two of the buildings, but administrators plan to open an additional two buildings to students each year. Residents now in the apartments slated for student rental in the fall were recently notified they would have to move out within three months. They are being provided a $300 moving allowance, officials said.
Roseanne Gill-Jacobson, vice president for student services, said the college decided to purchase its own housing because of the changing demographic of Lourdes students.
Traditionally a commuter college for people over 25, Lourdes has been working steadily over the past six years to attract more young students and those from outside the Toledo area. Being able to offer college-owned housing near the campus will help further that goal, administrators said.
"Many students were saying, 'We want the traditional college experience, we want somewhere to live,'•" Ms. Gill-Jacobson said, adding that Lourdes has lost potential students because of the lack of housing. "We think this is really going to add to the life at Lourdes."
The apartments will cost between $4,000 and $6,000 for the year, a price that includes furnishings and utilities. Students can also elect to have their meals cooked for them, which will carry an extra charge. Social and educational programs such as cookouts, talks, and volleyball tournaments also will be provided.
Lisa Binkowski, director of campus and residential life at Lourdes, said the residences would transform life for many students at the college who previously missed out on after-school activities because they lived too far away.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to build community here," Ms. Binkowski said. "They'll get to be around other students and be nurtured by the staff."
The college is also starting basketball, volleyball, and golf teams in the fall.
Knowing their children live in college housing close to the school will help put parents' minds at ease, said Amy Mergen, director of admissions.
"While we have done our best over the years to provide housing assistance, some parents just feel more secure knowing they're in a college-owned residence," Ms. Mergen said.
Lourdes will provide 24-hour security for the buildings, said Helene Sheets, director of college relations. A resident director and five resident assistants will live at the complex.
Brian Terrell, a 21-year old social work major, said he had already signed up to live at Lourdes Commons and couldn't wait to move in. He lives in West Toledo, but without a car he is forced to commute by bus - a trip he said can take two hours.
"This will be closer to the school, and I can be more involved and hopefully my grades will improve," Mr. Terrell said.
Oriana Orozco, a senior, said she was excited to learn about the new housing, but disappointed she won't be able to take advantage of it. She graduates in the fall.
The marketing major, who lives with her parents, said it would have been more fun to live with other students in college housing.
"I thought, 'Dang, I wish I'd been here when I was available for it,'•" Ms. Orozco said.
Three students have moved into the new residences.
One of them, Robert Lee, said his apartment was the nicest student housing he'd ever seen. Originally from Benton Harbor, Mich., the business major said he was glad to have a place to stay close to the school.
"You can't beat this," he said, pointing to the peaceful greenery surrounding the buildings. "It's real relax and chill. Where I'm from it's mostly city."
Not everyone was happy with the changes, however.
Jim Beard, 45, who has lived at Wickford Woods for 17 years, said he was shocked when he picked up the notice outside his door last Thursday telling him he and his wife would have to move.
"We were very unhappy," Mr. Beard said. "It's kind of hard to put into words. Who wants to be thrown out?"
The longtime resident said he was glad to be offered some perks to move, including the relocation fee and two months' free rent, as well as a free course at Lourdes, but he and his wife are feeling anxious about the upheaval.
"We're older, we have a lot of possessions, my wife's not well," Mr. Beard said. "It's going to be difficult for us to get up and move."
Residents in other buildings may eventually have to move out too. But Bob Boursaw, 70, said he wasn't worried about that right now.
"As long as I don't have to move now it doesn't bother me," Mr. Boursaw said. He added that he didn't mind more students moving into the complex "as long as they behave themselves."
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