Tech Village renovations bring it up to code

Students living in Tech Village can’t deny its on-campus location is convenient, but they may argue that it hasn’t been the convenience lately that it usually is. Tech Village is currently under a complete renovation. These are the first renovations that have been done since the Tech Village facilities were built in the 1960s.

“The apartments were built out of masonry block,” said Glenn Binkley, Facilities and Business Services interim associate vice president, “so the outsides are structurally secure”but the inside of the buildings were completely gutted.”

The interior walls were removed along with the plumbing fixtures. New insulation was installed because the buildings weren’t properly insulated in the 1960s. They’re also getting new floor coverings, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, doors, and windows.

“Because the utilities have never been replaced, they’re installing new electric, water and sewer systems,” Binkley said. “That’s why it has looked like a war zone.”

Tech Village’s ability to meet the needs of students with disabilities was limited in the past, but once the renovation is completed, each building will be compliant with the guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The outcome that we’re looking for is to have apartments that are more in line with today’s renters,” Binkley said, “and are available to students with disabilities.”

There will be one ADA-compliant apartment per building. Doors are larger, there is a clear turn-around radius, kitchen appliances are at ADA height, the knobs have been replaced with levers, the stoves have levers on the front instead of knobs on the back, and door handles are levers instead of knobs.

Tech chose to do the renovation because all of Tech Village is required to have sprinklers by Fall 2014 in order to meet building codes. As long as no one is living in the third building, the renovation doesn’t have to be completed by 2014. The sprinklers are necessary only for buildings where students are residing.

Before it was decided that Tech Village would be renovated, there was talk of closing it down entirely. Once it was decided that Tech couldn’t benefit from empty apartment buildings, it had to be determined whether the best option was to renovate or start fresh.

“It was significantly less expensive to renovate than to build new ones,” Charles Macke, Residential Life director, said.

Students were given a six-month notice that they would need to be moved out of the apartments in need of renovation. They were required to be completely moved out by May 2010.

Students who currently reside in Tech Village will have the choice of moving to the new apartments first. Other students who meet the criteria and faculty will then be given the opportunity to move in if there are still vacancies.

“In order to qualify to live in Tech Village,” Macke said, “students must be 21 years old or a junior.”

Most of the apartments had one bedroom. There will still be one-bedroom apartments, but there will also be two-bedroom apartments and four-person two-bedroom suites. The bedrooms in the suites feel more like dorm rooms.

Rent for the one-bedroom apartments will increase from $350 per month to $650 per month. The two-bedroom apartments will have the same $300 increase from $410 per month to $710 per month. Lastly, the four-person suite will cost $900 per month. These prices include everything except electricity, which means rent, water, cable, and internet access.

Though weather is a factor, the goal is to be completely finished with the first building by Aug. 1, so students can move in before school begins in the fall. They plan to begin renovating the second building immediately after work is completed on the first.