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Concordia planning 5-story dorm at River Forest campus

Concordia University is seeking to build a new five-story, 147-bed dormitory on the east side of its River Forest campus.
Concordia University is seeking to build a new five-story, 147-bed dormitory on the east side of its River Forest campus. (Concordia University)

Concordia University in River Forest wants to build a large dormitory to compete with other colleges and accommodate a change in student housing demands.

During a presentation Jan. 11 to the River Forest Village Board, university officials proposed a new five-story, 147-bed residence hall for the east side of the campus along Bonnie Brae Place.

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The area is currently open space just south of the parking structure and north of the existing Gross Hall.

If approved, the 48,000 square-foot building would be the first residence hall built on the campus since 1969, officials said.

"Higher education is a very competitive industry today," said Concordia President Daniel Gard. "Part of our funding has to come from attracting students. One of the things that's often looked for by families and students is living conditions."

Gard said Concordia is not only in competition with neighboring Dominican University, but also Elmhurst and North Central colleges, among others.

"We know we're losing some perspective students because of the housing," Gard said. "Our dormitories are rather dated. Trying to renovate the existing dorms would be much more expensive than building the new facility and would not have as positive a result."

The building is proposed to feature suite-style housing for students, and would consist of suites that would have either five bedrooms each with one bed or two bedrooms each with two beds.

Dennis Witte, vice president for administration, said the building would be 64 feet tall, a similar height to Gross Hall (60 feet) and the school's parking structure (61 feet). The dormitory would also feature a connection to Mary Martha Hall.

The exterior would feature a "heavy component" of glass, and feature a brick appearance, Witte said.

"The total cost is about $16 million," Witte said. "We're likely going to phase the build out of the interior floors. Our demand projections call for needing the first two floors right away. We need to complete our fundraising to pay for the entire project."

If approved, Concordia hopes to begin construction this summer, and expects the project to take about one year to complete.

Following its presentation to trustees, the proposal will head to the village's design review process.

"It's an exciting project," Village President Cathy Adduci said. "I agree, there is some need for updating our residence halls. It is a fact the dorm [demands] are changing."

Concordia plans to meet with residents living near the campus on Jan. 27 to further discuss the plan.

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Twitter: @steveschering

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