Genesee Community College Slates Construction of Two New College Village Buildings

Genesee Community College Foundation announced plans today for an expansion of College Village, Genesee Community College’s student residence. The expansion, which will consist of three new buildings and renovation of a fourth, will provide housing for 79 more students, bringing College Village occupancy to about 380. Construction will be complete by late August, according to Norbert J. Fuest, President of Genesee Community College Foundation Housing Services, Inc., the Foundation’s not-for-profit real estate arm. The $4.2 million project will be privately financed, with no expenditure of tax dollars.

The expansion consists of two new two-story residential buildings, a “commons” building, and renovation of the first floor of the existing “B” Building. The two new residential buildings will be constructed immediately to the south of the existing complex, located on Batavia-Stafford Town Line Road at the east end of the Batavia Campus. Each of the 10,500 square foot buildings will accommodate 32 students in eight apartment-style suites with single bedrooms. This summer, the interior of Building B’s first floor – which consists of inefficiently sized offices and a lounge area – will be demolished and four new apartment units housing 15 students will be constructed there. Offices, which house College Village staff members, will be moved to the upper level of a new 3,000 square foot two-story “commons building” located immediately to the east of Building “F.” The lower level of the commons building will house a multi-purpose area for social and educational activities, a small student computer lab, and a storage area.

The Foundation is expanding College Village to help accommodate the growing number of out-of-area students who need housing. This year the College had a record enrollment of 6,503 students, and last year the College was the 17th fastest-growing mid-sized community college in the nation. The College estimates that more than 650 students need housing each year, and the number is growing. Only 300 can currently live at College Village. The number of international students at Genesee also continues to grow, and the College enrolled 130 students from other countries in the Fall 2006 semester – a record number. All international students need housing.

Last year, College Village had a waiting list of 81 individuals – and the list was so long that many prospective students did not even add their names to the list, Mr. Fuest said. Of the 81 individuals on the waiting list, only 14 ended up enrolling at Genesee Community College. “The lack of housing limits access to a Genesee Community College education,” Mr. Fuest said. “The College Foundation is committed to help make a Genesee Community College education possible for any student who wants it, and to help the College continue to grow and thrive.”

In New York State, SUNY community colleges are not permitted to directly own or operate housing. Therefore, college foundations – not-for-profit charitable organizations set up to support public colleges – often take on the responsibility of establishing student housing on or near community college campuses. The Genesee Community College Foundation acquired the former College Meadows, a privately owned apartment complex adjacent to the Batavia Campus, in August 2001.

College Village currently consists of seven student residential buildings located on seven acres. The Village’s 300 residents live in garden-style apartments, and most apartments house four students. Over the last several years, the Foundation has added cable television service, wireless Internet access, and a voice-over Internet-based telephone service that permits students to call family and friends across the country at no charge. Over the last year, the Foundation has added an outdoor recreation area with space for volleyball, basketball, and picnics and has made a number of less-visible improvements to the complex, including a new highly efficient natural gas heating system, a tankless hot water system, two new roofs, about 60 new energy-efficient windows, and a fire suppression sprinkler system. A pathway connects College Village to the east doors of the Batavia Campus buildings, so any College Village resident can get to class or other educational activities with a short walk.

The two new residential buildings will be functional, comfortable, and innovative, Mr. Fuest said. Like the existing seven residential buildings, they will contain garden-style apartments, but with some new features, including single bedrooms, two baths per apartment, an efficient breakfast bar, and plenty of space for computers and electronic equipment that students often bring to campus. All apartments are furnished with bedroom furniture, living area furniture, and desks for study.

The new buildings, designed by Clark Patterson Associates, have another innovative feature as well – no traditional corridors. Each apartment opens to a small interior “courtyard,” which can be used for informal activities or socializing. The buildings themselves are oriented around an exterior courtyard, which also will encourage student gatherings. “We originally named the complex ‘College Village’ because we believe that students should have the opportunity to live in a village-style community,” Mr. Fuest said. “We want our buildings and our residential programs to foster a sense of community and give students the opportunity to learn the values of citizenship.”

Construction on the three new buildings is expected to begin within the next several weeks. Building B renovations will begin in late May. Buildings will be ready for move-in when students return in late August. The project’s general contractor will be the Rochester-based Building Innovation Group, which the Foundation selected at the conclusion of a competitive bid process. Financing will be provided by Five Star Bank.

The three new buildings will be constructed on about 4.7 acres of land immediately adjacent to the existing complex. The College’s Board of Trustees declared the land as surplus, and the College, Genesee County, and SUNY are in the final stages of transferring the land to the Foundation for the project. The parcel can accommodate two more buildings, which the Foundation hopes to construct in the future.

Community leaders established the Genesee Community College Foundation in 1986 to provide volunteer and philanthropic support to the College. In addition to acquiring and operating College Village, over the last decade the Foundation has provided more than 4,000 scholarships to Genesee students, instituted a new grant program to encourage academic and student service innovation, and conducted capital fund raising initiatives in support of constructing the Conable Technology Building and the Wolcott J. Humphrey III Student Union. John C. Dwyer is the current Foundation president.

The Foundation formed Genesee Community College Foundation Housing Services six years ago to acquire and operate property on behalf of the College. Norbert J. Fuest, who served as Foundation president for the last three years, is the current president of Housing Services.

Student housing has a significant effect on both the college and the region, according to Mr. Fuest. “Students from outside the area and students from abroad in particular, bring great diversity to Genesee Community College,” he said. “They certainly gain a great education here, but they also add richness to the classroom and form friendships with local students that will last a lifetime.”

Out-of-area students also have a large economic impact on the College and the community. “These students and their families spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in our region, and make a major contribution to the local economy,” Mr. Fuest said. “Because we attract so many students from outside of the area, we are able to maintain specialized academic programs that we might not otherwise be able to offer, and these exceptional programs in turn help boost the College’s reputation across the state and around the globe even more.” Out-of-area students also help minimize the need for increases in local tax support of the College, Mr. Fuest said.