Manzanita residents begin moving out for renovations

More than a quarter of the 572 students currently living in Manzanita Hall have been moved to other dorms as the building prepares for upcoming renovations.

As of Wednesday, 182 residents had moved out, University Housing marketing specialist Eliza Robinson said in an e-mail.

Manzanita Hall is being used as temporary housing due to the increase in demand for on-campus housing this year.

Officially, the move-out is optional and “in no way are the renovations of Manzanita forcing [students] to move from the hall,” Robinson said.

However, some students said they feel like they are being forced out of the dorms.

“This is my first college experience and they’re trying to rip me away from all the friends I’ve made,” psychology freshman Lindsey Runkel said.

Students who move out of Manzanita are being sent to various dorms based on their majors. These include Palo Verde Main, Hassayampa Academic Village and Best Hall, said Michael Coakley, executive director of University Housing.

Robinson said students will have to pay the rate for their new housing assignments.

Coakley said no specific date is set for the renovations to begin. However, they would happen no earlier than spring semester.

The reason the school isn’t waiting until spring to move students out is because the students in Manzanita were only supposed to live there temporarily, Robinson said. As space opens up in other dorms, students are being replaced.

“Since no decision has been made as to whether to work with a third party or to do the renovation in house, a start date has not been determined as of yet,” Coakley said in an e-mail.

There is no debate over whether Manzanita Hall is in need of a renovation. Manzanita Hall, a 980-bed, 215,000-square-foot building, has been in continuous use since its creation in 1967, Robinson said.

Likely the only part of Manzanita Hall that won’t be renovated is Manzy Square, where the dinning hall and other eateries are located, which was renovated five years ago, Robinson said.

“[The rooms] are alright, I guess … it’s a room. They’re not so bad that I’d want to move out,” business communications freshman Brian Muller said.

The details of the renovation were discussed at an Arizona Board of Regents meeting in June. Plans include reconfiguring rooms, adding more community space and putting in more exercise areas.

The renovations will also replace or upgrade the function of the building, including fire protection systems and security systems, as well as plumbing, mechanical and electrical operations. Windows, doors, walls, lighting, elevators and signage will also be fixed or replaced.

Once the construction is complete, there will be 280 fewer beds in Manzanita — space that will be taken up by bigger common areas.

Architects will design the building to be in line with the 21st Century Project, Coakley said.

The 21st Century Project is a new organization based in Columbus, Ohio, that is trying to change college housing through “innovative solutions in the areas of sustainability, flexibility, community and technology,” according to the project’s website.

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