Michigan State University's 1855 Place Modernizes Student Living
A new project on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing will provide additional family and apartment-style housing, retail operations, as well as mixed-use space to consolidate offices for both the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS) and Intercollegiate Athletics.
Located on a former site of the Michigan State Police at the corner of South Harrison Road and East Kalamazoo Street, the new project sits in an ideal location, within both the residential and service districts. The development includes 10 buildings for student apartments with kitchens, laundry, a fitness center and a parking facility.
The largest component of the 1855 Place project focuses on MSU family and student housing and includes approximately 300 units in 10 buildings, with over 900 beds. A 102,000 square foot mixed use office building component consolidates the RHS offices distributed across campus, and offices for various units in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics as well as centralizes event ticketing sales and adds new retail space.
Logistics and Phasing
Project Representative Andrew Linebaugh of the MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities office spoke to the construction side of the project, "The biggest challenge so far has been site logistics and phasing of the project while maintaining event parking on the site. The nature of this project's construction was very different for us. This is a stick frame (wood) structure. Normally our standards are steel studs, with framing and masonry. This was set up as a developer model in order to compete with some of the local residential facilities. It wasn't complicated but something different for us."
Another challenge was working through last winter in order to get the first phase complete in time for August move in. He noted the project is on time and on budget, all while juggling the needs of three different major stakeholders; MSU Athletics, which will house the fourth floor of the mixed use building; MSU police, responsible for all of the parking areas, and RHS on floors one through three.
Construction of 1855 Place is in two phases: Phase I included the family housing and parking structure, which opened in summer 2016. Phase II includes single student housing and the mixed-use office building, set to open in August 2017. As part of this second phase, RHS and Intercollegiate Athletics staff will move into their new offices between September 2017 and January 2018.
The Need for Family Housing
The 2008 RHS Strategic Plan identified family and apartment-style housing as important to the MSU mission. However, a number of facilities which previously met these needs in the past were no longer available, including the University's Cherry Lane and Faculty Bricks apartments (demolished in 2011 after exceeding their life expectancy), as well as a number apartments located at Spartan Village for which repair, maintenance and renovation became cost-prohibitive. The remaining Spartan Village apartments will be demolished after the opening of the new housing.
RHS Director of Communications Kat Cooper describes the process, "We weren't prepared to put the dollars into the existing facilities, so we looked at sites around campus and determined that the corner of Harrison Road and Kalamazoo Street would be a great location for the new facility," Cooper recalled. The existing apartment facilities were in a more rural setting - across from a service area of campus as opposed to the academic side.
1855 Place is much closer to MSU's academic core and across from the Breslin Center, home to Spartan basketball as well as the site of major events such as graduation. "We knew students would need services, like food and other amenities within walking distance," noted Cooper. Included are Starbucks, Sparty's market (she described as a mini version of the popular Trader Joe's store - including foods to go and staple items, toiletries and essentials), a Spartan Spirit Shop, the MSU Housing Assignments Office (which provides the option of buying a meal plan or signing your lease on site), an MSU sports and performing arts ticket office, and finally, an employment office for RHS. These retail options and service facilities are all on the first floor.
Behind the main retail and services building are the four residential buildings which include both two and four bedroom apartments. Three of the four buildings have end-cap amenities, including a workout facility, a mailing resource and a multi-purpose room, available for use by residents at no extra cost. Set further back are residential townhomes, all four-bedroom interlocking units. Residents enter at the second floor of the townhomes, where the living rooms and kitchens are located. In these units, bedrooms and bathrooms are either upstairs or downstairs, depending on the configuration.
Finally, another section of the development is designed for families (defined as married couple and/or students with dependents). These three currently occupied four-story buildings include one and two bedroom units. Two are 100 percent full and the third comes online this semester. Also included are outdoor amenities, including a playground, walking paths, a community garden, soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts and a plaza area where movies will be shown during warm weather months.
Existing visitor and event parking will be reconfigured in the area and expanded to provide 880 spaces in the two-story residential structure, with an additional 1,200 surface spaces. "We see the biggest impact this project will have is the convenience to the academic size of campus," Cooper said. "Now, things will be much more accessible. Students with families will especially appreciate the convenience factor. In this facility, they won't have to worry about how they are going to get to the grocery or get something to eat. They can remain focused on school."