Seton Hall is eyeing the possible development of a new off-campus student housing complex across the street from its main gate, according to a public notice from the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (NJEFA) filed earlier this week.
The filing, which was first reported by Jersey Digs and released on April 13, details plans for the demolition of the existing 525 and 519 South Orange Ave. buildings owned by Seton Hall to make way for the development of a “multi-story student housing project” which could also include commercial space.
This is not the first time the University has proposed a redevelopment of the 525 South Orange Ave. building. Last April, interim Provost Karen Boroff submitted a proposal to the faculty senate which suggested the movement of the Walsh Library Art Gallery to the 525 building to make room a new career center – a move that was rebuffed by faculty in the library.
The buildings that currently sit on the 525 and 519 plots include art classrooms and offices for Seton Hall’s public relations and marketing department, respectively.
The proposed complex would be situated right next to Turrell Manor, one of two off-campus apartment style dormitories owned by the University, which is built to house 83 students. Ora Manor, the second of the off-campus dormitories, is located roughly a mile west from Seton Hall’s main campus on Valley Street in downtown South Orange.
According to the notice, the University would purchase a revenue bond up to $140 million from the NJEFA of which the proceeds would be loaned back to the University to pay for the project, which would also fund renovations and construction in the Richie Regan Athletic Center, Boland Hall and the University Center as well as refund the balances of previously issued bonds.
The NJEFA is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the possible issuance of the bond on April 20.
It’s currently unclear how many students the complex may house, but it’s possible construction could provide welcome relief to a cramped campus which has struggled in recent years to meet demand for the number of students who want to live on or near campus.
Last January, Director of Housing and Residence Life at Seton Hall Timothy Moran remarked that a plan by three private companies to develop off-campus dorms in downtown South Orange as a could provide possible relief for Seton Hall – which currently has more enrolled students than it does beds. Though Moran noted that since he started his position in the summer of 2017, “everyone who has wanted housing on campus has been offered housing.”
That fact has not come without concessions, though. Recently, The University has had to expand first-year student housing from only Aquinas Hall and Boland Hall, which can hold 1,192 students collectively, to officially include space in Neumann Hall – a dorm which once strictly housed upperclassmen.
In a statement to The Setonian from Seton Hall, the University cited the bond application as a part of its “ongoing strategic planning and identification of various funding sources,” but noted that all capital projects are currently on hold as a result of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @NickKerr99.