The University of Massachusetts announced Tuesday that it plans to open its 1,000-bed residence hall in September 2018. Through a public-private partnership model, mulled by the university for the past year, construction of the Columbia Point residence would mark the first on-campus housing for the UMass system.
“This is a major milestone in the history of UMass Boston and a significant accomplishment for the university as a whole,” President Marty Meehan said in a statement. “UMass Boston is the most diverse campus of its size in New England, and we know there is a direct connection between on-campus housing and academic success. We therefore believe it is crucial to provide our Boston students with the opportunities that students at most colleges and universities take for granted.”
The UMass Building Authority issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in December 2014, looking for a partner in constructing the residential complex. Capstone Development will lease a portion of the UMass Boston campus to develop the facility, the university said. Once developed, a non profit management entity will own and operate it and UMass will oversee the student life components.
UMass entertained seven of eight development submissions for consideration, determining Capstone to be “the best qualified developer to undertake the project,” according to the statement.
Two sites were considered at the time of the RFP issuance -- One adjacent to the Peninsula Apartment complex, the second situated near the existing UMass Boston-owned historic Calf Pasture Pump Station. UMass will construct the $120 million complex at the first location, also adjacent to the Clark Athletic Center, according to the announcement.
“On-campus housing will allow this most diverse of campus communities to offer every opportunity for its students to succeed, to graduate on time, and to go forth and contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of this state,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley in the statement. “According to most published research, academic success is positively related to living in university sponsored on and off campus facilities.”
The dorms will be open to freshman and transfer students at the ever-expanding campus. From 2005 to the present, UMass Boston grew from 11,862 students enrolled to 17,030 students.
“Freshmen living in on-campus housing have significantly higher grades and retention rates,” Motley said. “On-campus housing provides opportunities that contribute directly to student success.”
University representatives plan to meet with civic associations for further development discussions, according to the announcement. Past attempts to introduce on-campus housing have drawn fierce opposition from Dorchester neighbors in years past.