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UAlbany Highlights Sustainability in Proposed Student Housing Project

October 23, 2009

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Empire Commons student housing

The proposed apartment-style housing will be similar in amenities to Empire Commons, above.

With record applications and student enrollment thatís grown to 18,000, the University at Albany is developing a new 500-bed dormitory on the southeast portion of the uptown campus near Indian Pond.

The apartment-style housing for upperclassmen would be similar in amenities to Empire Commons and built on 12 acres of undeveloped land. The project will be constructed to be environmentally sustainable, with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating, at a minimum.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings has proposed transferring an additional 3.3 acres from the Harriman State Office Campus to UAlbany to help facilitate a larger buffer between the project and a residential neighborhood not far from the site.

UAlbany President George M. Philip said the University hopes to acquire this additional acreage in order to help address neighborhood concerns about visual impacts, noise, and storm water.

"We are your neighbors and we want to be good neighbors," said Philip at a public hearing in September.

The University will meet with neighbors again on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in the SEFCU Arena to share concept renderings of the project that are based, in part, on neighborhood comments.

According to John Giarrusso, associate vice president for facilities management, UAlbany has very few areas on the densely constructed uptown campus on which to build such housing. The proposed site was selected based on costs, traffic, pedestrian safety, and conformance with campus master planning principles.

"Planning is under way to ensure the site minimizes impacts to the adjacent neighborhood while enhancing the area around the Purple Path and the pond," said Giarrusso.

He said funds for the housing project come from student room rates, not from tax dollars. The project will also serve to decrease traffic during peak hours, as students who once commuted to UAlbany will now live on campus.

Facts on Proposed Student Housing:

  • Looking at approximately 500 apartment-style beds along with associated parking. The exact number of units could be a bit more or less, depending on the design and architecture of the building.
  • Similar to Empire Commons with respect to amenities, but not necessarily the look or design, with single bedrooms, four to an apartment, two bathrooms, shared kitchen and living rooms.
  • There will be a central mail box, exercise, and gathering area for use by the residents.
  • To save land and maximize construction efficiencies, the new project will likely have more floors than Empire Commons.
  • It is likely the University will relocate Perimeter Road, stretching it closer to the property line so that the housing can be farther away from neighbors and closer to the interior of campus.
  • Plans exist to link the new Purple Path (walking path), and extend/improve it through to the Boor Sculpture Studio.
  • The project is in the design/planning mode now.  Surveying and soil testing work occurred over the summer, and environmental reviews are being conducted, to be released in the coming weeks.
  • Construction could start in early spring 2010 for occupancy in September 2012.  

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Rabi Musah
UAlbany Faculty

"It is an enriching experience for me to observe people as they come to recognize something for the first time."

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