Renovations bring new life to East Campus Housing

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Renovations bring new life to East Campus Housing

The new look of Larkspur Court. Still undergoing some renovations.

The new look of Larkspur Court. Still undergoing some renovations.

Photographs courtesy of Colten Bradford

The new look of Larkspur Court. Still undergoing some renovations.

Photographs courtesy of Colten Bradford

Photographs courtesy of Colten Bradford

The new look of Larkspur Court. Still undergoing some renovations.

Kate Richardson

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As anyone who has been to the east side of campus has probably noticed, there have been massive renovations taking place with all of the apartments on that side.   Not only have the outsides of Clover, Bluebell and Larkspur courts been overhauled, the insides have been updated and renovated as well.

When asked what their ideas were when it came to renovations to be done, Keith McMath, Assistant Housing Director, said, “let’s give each area its own identity.”

This meant a new appearance both inside and out for all three courts, to make each one different from the next. The new appearance took shape with a color scheme for the siding of the buildings, and a matching accent wall in each apartment. Larkspur has been done in a deep red, Bluebell has a deep blue outside, and Clover is now a sage green, which was the favorite among the tour group that The Journal staff joined.

All of the renovations were done to be as sustainable and cost effective as possible. The outdoor stairs and decks are made with all recycled plastic and wood, and built to last. All of the new appliances are energy star rated. The furniture that is in the apartments is the same furniture that was there before, as it was undamaged, but it has been reupholstered and refinished to modernize each piece.

In addition to necessary renovations and updates, Housing wanted to add as many student requested updates as possible, to rival the preference for the townhouses across campus. These additions include a more residential look, garbage disposals, dishwashers and larger closets.

One outdoor amenity highly requested by students was an outdoor fire-pit. This was accommodated by Housing as well, with co-funding from the Student Government Association. The outdoor space took the shape of a courting bench and a large fireplace, both made of thick gray stone.

Housing really wanted to “address the unfavorable stigma,” associated with East Campus Housing, especially Clover Court, with the renovations. They figured the best way to do that was to take everything out of the apartments and redo them. Now, not only does Clover Court have a new look and new appliances, it has larger bedrooms and closets.

Chancellor Koch inquired what the most exotic living location would be for students now that all of these renovations are taking place. John Ringle, Director of Housing and Residential Life, replied that it would have to be Clover, because “they have the largest walk-in closets any student should have.”

With all of the new closets there is another update that students living in the renovated courts will notice, and that is a lack of doors on those closets. The students really didn’t use them, according to McMath, and they cause maintenance problems when they break.

“It opens the room up by not having doors,” he continued. Housing is encouraging students to hang a curtain rod if they want the closet covered, and that way each student can add their own color choice and flair to the room.

With all of the renovations there will be a slight decrease in beds available on-campus, and this is partly due to the demand for private bedrooms, instead of shared bedrooms. Shared bedrooms in the apartments used to be the cheapest on campus living choice, but that choice will change after all the renovations are completed.

So what are these renovations going to cost students? Ringle stated that there will be a rate increase of about 8.4 percent, which is an addition of around $350 dollars for the whole year to housing costs.  He also stated that they are hoping to standardize rates for both the apartments and the townhouses in the next few years.

The apartments in Bluebell and Clover will be ready for the fall semester move-in, but Larkspur has four that will not be ready until September.

Koch stated that these renovations were helping UIS to meet the high expectations that are placed on the campus. She continued by stating that these renovations are helping to make students safer, and enhancing their experience at UIS, which will help make them more successful.

The renovations that are wrapping up now are the Stage 2 renovations. Family housing will be Stage 3.

Family housing will see the start of renovations after Labor Day, and they will continue until Thanksgiving break. Only two of the three buildings will receive renovations at this time, and Ringle stated that a construction fence will be put up around the two buildings, to keep the families who remain in residence safe from the work being done.

These buildings will be receiving new decks and maintenance updates indoors. Housing staff will be conducting the indoor updates, which include: repainting, carpet extraction and shampooing, floor waxing, appliance replacement, basic repairs and plumbing work.

When all of the work is done, the family residents will be relocated to one of the renovated buildings during Winter Break, while the other will be available for new family applicants. Then during the spring semester the last building will receive the same updates.

These renovations will increase cost for students by $168 for the spring semester. Annual rates will be set during October.

For additional details or if you want to see the renovations for yourself, visit our website at www.uisjournal.com for a video tour.