ResLife to begin renovation in Maddux and McCord

Maddux/McCord Hall will close for renovations beginning in the summer of 2016. The $5.8 million renovations on Maddux/McCord will be completed in fall 2017, including new HVAC units, plumbing, flooring, doors, paint, bathroom upgrades and new furniture.

During the renovations from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017, residents currently living in Maddux/McCord will be relocated to either Cooper/Dunn hall, also the temporary home of the Engineering Village, or placed in another room or apartment on campus, said Josh Edmonds, assistant director of operations.

The funds for all renovations come from student housing fees, and the newly renovated buildings cost more per year than the non-renovated, said Residential Life Director Charlie Macke.

“We’re an auxiliary service,” Macke said. “It means we don’t get any money from the state or any money from the university.”

The renovations to Tech’s residence halls are more expensive every year, and have been costing around $6 million. Because the renovations cost more each year, student fees will continue to increase in attempts to cushion the cost.

“Every year our price goes up a little bit, between 3 to 5 percent, because everything goes up,” said Macke.

Despite the yearly increase, student-housing fees do not come close to covering the cost of renovations. ResLife has a payment plan in place to pay off multiple state-funded bonds, but the department claims the renovations are necessary and beneficial.

In addition to the increase in student fees, Edmonds explained the prepayment of $100 to reserve a room on campus that is only refundable if the student is eligible to cancel the application by specific dates. For the fall academic year applications, the cancelation must be complete by May 1, for spring applications the date is Dec. 1, and for summer applications the date is May 1.

“That’s the unfortunate part of things is we’ve gone from fairly debt-free, outside of the two new buildings, to now having a higher debt,” said Macke.

ResLife’s renovation budget is also suffering from the decrease in freshman students living on campus because of the Tennessee Promise scholarship, which allows qualified students to attend a community college free for two years.

“It has had an effect on us,” Macke said.

Freshman and sophomores make up nearly 60 to 65 percent of students living on campus, according to Macke. He claims ResLife was down approximately 300 students from last year’s resident numbers, and the money the department is bringing in does not cover the cost of the loans. According to Edmonds, the numbers have decreased from 2,268 in fall 2014 to 1,938 in fall 2015.

“I have seen an effect of the Tennessee Promise in Browning/Evins and Cooper/Dunn,” said ResLife Assistant Coordinator Gregory Pateras. “Numbers are down, which makes some residents have double rooms by themselves or gives the residents to buy out their rooms.”

Many students in residence halls are unaware of the cost increase, including three-year resident Abi Dye.

“I actually don’t remember ever hearing about an increased fee for living in a dorm,” Dye said. “Although I wish we didn’t have to keep paying fees because it is already expensive as is.”

Dye currently lives in Cooper/Dunn but plans to live in a renovated hall next year.

“I’m excited about it because the dorms are a lot nicer over there, and there is a kitchen, so that I can cook whenever I want to,” she said.

According to Macke, the most costly part of the renovations is the behind-the-scene aspect, such as HVAC units, plumbing, air conditioning and operating systems. Other improvements include new flooring, doors, hardware, paint and furniture.

“I think the renovations are absolutely a positive thing for campus, residents and promoting TTU,” said Pateras. “Some of our non-renovated halls are showing their age.”

ResLife plans to continue renovations until completion in 2021, despite the lack of student fees for funding. Macke claims the construction could be forced to pause if numbers continue to decrease drastically.