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A suite life ahead for future Alexandria college students; new housing project starts

ATCC President Kevin Kopischke spoke to the crowd at the ground breaking of Foundation Hall. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)1 / 4
Shown here is what the exterior of Foundation Hall will look like upon completion. (Drawing courtesy of Ringdahl Architects)2 / 4
A four-bedroom unit in Foundation Hall features a centralized full kitchen and adjoining living space. (Drawing courtesy of Ringdahl Architects)3 / 4
Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) students will have a new option for student housing next fall. Pictured at Thursday's ground breaking ceremony are (left to right): Jeanne Batesole, president of ATCC Foundation; Kathy Pfeffer Nohre, executive director of ATCC Foundation; Kevin Kopischke, ATCC president and Mayor Dan Ness. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)4 / 4

Construction of Foundation Hall officially began Thursday morning.

A ground breaking ceremony was held at Jefferson Street and 17th Avenue, the site where future Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) students can live and learn. The four-story building is planned to be completed August 2012.

"Alexandria Technical and Community College has always prided itself as being on the 'cutting edge' of schools," said Kathy Pfeffer Nohre, executive director of the ATCC Foundation and master of ceremonies of the ground breaking event.

Referred to as "student housing suites," the units in Foundation Hall are in keeping with the college's goal to be on the forefront of meeting students' needs.

Traditional dorm rooms are no longer practical for today's students according to ATCC leaders. Foundation Hall rooms will have full kitchens, designer furniture in shared living spaces, high-speed Internet, Wi-fi access and cable TV, along with a 42-inch wall mounted LCD TV in the living room. The units are expected to rent for around $520 monthly per student for the four-bedroom suites.

Current plans for the building include 34 four-bedroom and seven two-bedroom suites for a full occupancy of 150 students. Foundation Hall will also be home to a Student/History Center and will be available to host Foundation events.

During the ceremony, ATCC President Kevin Kopischke spoke of how the college and Foundation have a vision for the future. "It's not good enough to sit back and let things happen," he said, adding that there may be another building planned three to five years from now.

Kopischke shared an anecdote about an area young person proclaiming, "Alexandria wins" on her Facebook page in response to the city council approving the project.

ATCC Foundation President Jeanne Batesole emphasized the focus of the Foundation to financially assist students. "No monies dedicated to scholarships have been used for this project," she said. Batesole said the students will have a "true" college experience by living on campus.

The Foundation board has an interest in keeping the project within the community; 78 percent of the contracts awarded are to local firms. The location of Foundation Hall will also benefit nearby businesses that are within walking distance.

ATCC is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. MnSCU enrollment has been above 200,000 for the past two years, according to a report released October 13.

"While our commitment will always be to our career and technical programs, the growth potential for the college - through Associate in Arts transfer student enrollments - is very significant," Kopischke said.

While no concrete number is available at present, Linda Roles the interim assistant director for the Foundation, confirmed a waiting list to rent the suites is currently in the works. The ATCC Foundation is the first foundation in the MnSCU system to build student housing.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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