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More room on the way for Alexandria College students

More student housing is needed, according to the city and college leaders. The college’s first student housing project, Foundation Hall, has had 100% occupancy in its 150-bed capacity for each year since it opened in 2011.

Agenda - Monday, November 28, 2022
These drawings show the location of the proposed Alexandria College's student housing project and what the building will look like.
Contributed drawings
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ALEXANDRIA — A new four-story, 60,000-square-foot student housing building for the Alexandria Technical and Community College is in the works.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council approved four zoning requests from the ATCC Foundation — a planned unit development or PUD, conditional use permit, zoning district amendment and a preliminary plat.

The new 150-bed building would be located next to the college on the old Jefferson High School site on the southeast corner of 15th Avenue and Jefferson Street.

More student housing is needed, according to the city and college leaders. The college’s first student housing project, Foundation Hall, has had 100% occupancy in its 150-bed capacity for each year since it opened in 2011.

Jeff Wild, executive director of the foundation, told the Alexandria Planning Commission that adequate student housing is one of the biggest barriers the college faces to continue its growth.

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Wild said enrollment was up 9% this fall and 18% last spring.

“We continue to grow but students cannot find adequate housing,” Wild told the commission. “Applications for the existing housing opened on Nov. 1 and it’s already full. There are a number of residential units and resorts in the community but not enough to accommodate students.”

WildJeff21.jpg
Jeff Wild

In a letter to the city, Wild noted that the college generates an economic impact of more than $114 million in the lakes area annually. “This impact is felt by our retail outlets, grocery stores and other businesses frequented by our 3,700 students and employees,” he wrote. “Our college graduates over 600 students a year, fueling economic growth across our region.”

The project includes a 94-stall parking area. City Planner Mike Weber said the additional parking will provide a significant increase in available on-campus/off street parking.

Right now, on average, 33% of the college’s student parking stalls are available on the busiest days, according to the college’s parking study.

The benefit of on-campus student housing is that most of those students won’t need a car because they can walk to school, Wild said.

The new student housing building will mimic the look of Foundation Hall.

This “bulk and massing” of structures is in keeping with the existing and proposed surrounding uses, including the ATCC buildings to the south, Almorere Health to the west, the Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management’s waste-to-energy facility to the southeast and 3M to the southwest, Weber said.

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The college has submitted a tree preservation and landscaping plan that shows the existing trees, trees to be removed, proposed trees to be planted, landscaping and tree preservation improvements.

A stormwater management plan has also been submitted.

The council approved the zoning requests with the following conditions:

  • A final PUD application must be presented as part of the building permit application and review process.
  • For the preliminary plat, separate and independent connections must be made to public utilities in each lot.
  • Final utility and drainage plans must be submitted to the city engineer for review before a final plat is approved.
  • Proper evidence of a title must be submitted to the city attorney’s office.
  • A developer’s agreement must be executed before the release of the final plat for recording.
Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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