Riverbend Commons to alleviate freshman housing shortage

Brad Ellingson

While most freshmen checked into residence halls this semester, some were busy checking into hotels.

With more than 100 students placed in hotel rooms at the beginning of the year, the Department of Housing and Residential Life will look to the fall 2002 opening of the Riverbend Commons housing complex to accommodate future students.

Because the University guarantees housing for first-year students who apply before the deadline, and because large numbers of freshmen keep enrolling, University officials anticipate increased housing will help alleviate future housing problems.

“We think Riverbend Commons will help meet the demand for student housing on our campus,” said Mary Ann Ryan, departmental director for housing and residential life.

The total cost of the Riverbend project is approximately $33 million, Ryan said. She said a portion of that money will also fund the South Mall project.

Riverbend Commons is part of a three-phase project known as the South Mall, which includes increased student housing,
underground parking and green space between the complex and Coffman Union.

A goal of the South Mall project will be to connect the University to the Mississippi river and river flats, University officials said.

Ellerbe Becket architects designed the project, and Ryan Construction is currently constructing the building.

The new building, to be located on East River Road behind Coffman Union, will feature suite-style apartments with kitchens and a parking garage with more than 1,900 spaces.

A living and learning community with computer labs will also be included, Ryan said.

Facilities Management officials said the entire project is on schedule.

While the building’s structure and parking garage are complete, both exterior and interior work remains.

Currently, the Department of Housing and Residential Life is working with student organizations to determine which students will be able to live in Riverbend Commons, Ryan said.

“Our current residence hall students will have first priority to get into Riverbend Commons student housing,” Ryan said.