Moving out, moving up

By CiaraShook

Students living in Columbia’s five different residence facilities opened their mailboxes last week to find a pamphlet from Residence Life that gave housing options for the 2010-2011 academic year. On the pamphlet, students found a new option, The Dwight, which will replace the 2 E. 8th Street Building and 18 E. Congress Parkway.

Columbia’s decision to house students in The Dwight, 642 S. Clark St., isn’t shortsighted. The college envisioned their students living there since the building’s remodeling was in development, according to Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs. Students who were slated to live in the 2 E. 8th Street Building and 18 E. Congress Parkway will live in The Dwight, which offers single and shared bedrooms in two-bedroom units just as the dorms did. However, it also offers two bathrooms in each unit, taller ceilings in the higher floors—standing at 18 feet—a 42-inch television in the living room and updated kitchen appliances.

“This may be the best housing in an urban setting you can find, and at a relatively good value,” Kelly said.

Students living at The Dwight during the 2010-2011 academic year will pay 10 percent less than the building’s current tenants, Kelly said.

“It is expensive to live downtown,” Kelly said. “Columbia doesn’t make any money [from students living here]. What students pay for is the five-year lease [ that Columbia has with The Dwight].”

According to Mike DeSalle, vice president of Business Affairs and CFO at Columbia, students who lived in a double-occupancy bedroom in a shared apartment at the 2 E. 8th Street Building paid $9,946 for the 2009-2010 academic year, but will pay $9,446 for the same living arrangements at The Dwight.

The Dwight comes at a lower price, but that doesn’t mean students will be downgrading their living conditions.

Mary Oakes, director of the Office of Residence Life, said members in her office are excited about leasing The Dwight because the facility was built for student housing, as opposed to the building composition of the 2 E. 8th Street Building.

“At 2 E. 8th St., we were retrofitting an already in-place apartment building,” Oakes said. “2 E. 8th St. served our purpose when our residence hall population was growing. The Dwight is tailored more to students and their needs; it’s what our students are looking for when it comes to cost as well as amenities.”

Those additional amenities include a larger common area and a better-tailored elevator service for the building and its uses.

“I know a lot of times when students lived in 2 E. 8th Street Building, the frequently heard complaint was the elevators took so long while waiting to go to a class,” Oakes said.

Though The Chronicle left messages with the Madison Apartment Group, the owners of the 2 E. 8th Street Building, a representative could not be reached.

The Dwight has an expansive common area on the 11th floor to accommodate the building’s population, which is just under 800 beds, according to Kelly. The room includes a pool table, a flat-screen TV, study booths and lounge. Wi-Fi access is available in the common area, with Ethernet capabilities in the each unit.

Above the common room is a graffiti room, where students are free to practice their art on the walls,  pillars, floor and ceiling.  Students also have practice and study rooms at their disposal, including two soundproof WhisperRoom booths to rehearse or record music.

Chip Schell,  vice president of operations for Campus Advantage,  the management firm for The Dwight,  said the way the building was renovated blends well with the students at Columbia.

“Campus Advantage is working to have more areas for students to work on their art,” Schell said.  “There are some vacant offices in the building.” Schell hopes those spaces will be ready for students by move-in day.

Kelly said The Dwight was developed with Columbia in mind.  It was designed to provide a hip, urban atmosphere, while preserving the integrity of the older construction on the first 10 floors.

The Dwight was built in 1911 for the Dwight Brothers Paper Company and underwent an overhaul in recent years to become an apartment complex. Six floors were added to the building and an addition was constructed alongside the building to house elevators.

Columns and brick walls of the original building were preserved while the new construction on the top floors integrates beams and ductwork to the aesthetic of the building.

Danielle Heinson, sophomore arts, entertainment and media management major, has lived in the 2 E. 8th St. Building since her freshman year, and was excited to hear about Columbia’s decision to switch to The Dwight.

“Because Dwight is newer, more people might want to live in the dorms,” Heinson said.

Heinson, along with other students, agreed The Dwight is an upgrade from the 2 E. 8th St. Building, a 28-floor building with three elevators. The Dwight has three elevators too, but caters to only 16 floors.

“The worst part about [2 E. 8th St.] is when the elevators break down,” said Elisa Baker, sophomore computer animation major. Baker lived at 2 E. 8th St. Building during the 2008-2009 year and currently lives in The Dwight.

“This is a building that fits how we [the Columbia community] see the world,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a building that allows us to build a community in ways we’ve never seen before, because of the amenities, the vibe and the creative commons spaces.”

The Dwight, 642 S. Clark St., is currently available for tours on a walk-in basis for interested students on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.