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UC opens newly renovated Calhoun Hall to address student housing shortage

Calhoun Hall
Zack Carreon
Calhoun Hall.

The University of Cincinnati on Thursday opened the newly renovated dormitory, Calhoun Hall.

Calhoun is UC's largest residence hall, first opening in 1967. The university says the building was in need of renovation to meet the needs of today's college students and will house around 800 residents when students move in this weekend for the spring semester.

The $80 million upgrade includes updated rooms, common areas and more efficient utilities and appliances. The project also expanded the space to accommodate 220 additional students compared to the original Calhoun Hall.

According to Cincinnati's Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Jack Miner, the building's reopening adds much-needed on-campus living space to help keep up with the university's growing student population. But it isn't a long-term solution.

"The overcrowding problem is really an issue that we'll continue to address for years to come," Miner said. "We're one of the few universities in the country that's growing. We had about a thousand more freshmen last year than the year before and we anticipate that we'll grow again this coming fall."

UC has similar plans for another dormitory, Siddall Hall, which sits next to Calhoun.

"Right next door to this building we're renovating another space that will give us additional beds and give us a nicer space for students," Miner said.

Housing shortage continues to affect students

As incoming freshmen continue to enroll at the university, UC has looked to private landlords near campus to provide housing for students who wanted to live on campus, but couldn't get into a dormitory due to a lack of space. In fact, some of the students moving into Calhoun this weekend were living in temporary housing or nearby hotels last semester.

Miner says many third- and fourth-year students who would typically choose to live in the surrounding neighborhoods want to live on campus or right across from it because of the location. That means any space available close to the university is prime real estate and there will need to be continued development in the future to keep up with demand.

"We're seeing so much private growth of new apartment buildings, new apartment complexes," Miner said. "It's really great to see the private market respond to the student growth at UC."

Still, many students are hoping to land spots on campus. Isaac Smitherman is a fifth-year student who says he's managed to live in a dorm his entire time at UC mainly because he's been an RA for years. Smitherman says he likes being on campus because it provides the easiest access to his classes and transportation options.

"You can live in a residence hall, you don't necessarily need a car or buy a parking pass. You can walk right down the street and get food," he explained. "There are so many bus stops across campus to get you wherever you want to go in the city if you want to be here and explore, and experience the community outside of UC."

More student housing may be on the way, but the shortage is having an effect on students about to begin their college experience.

Tre Saddler is an incoming freshman from Cleveland who chose Cincinnati for its sports management program. Saddler says he was hoping to get into the Turner Hall dormitory on campus but will have to settle for a more expensive apartment rented through the university that sits across the street from the school.

"It's a nice apartment, but the price..." Saddler said. "So now I got to pay an expensive price because there were limited rooms and I didn't have another choice."

Saddler says he still considers himself fortunate to find a place near campus because he won't have a car in his first year of college.

UC says it will be prioritizing first-year students and the incoming class for its on-campus housing. Applications for dormitory spots for fall 2023 will open Jan. 23. The renovation of Siddall Hall is expected to be complete by summer 2024.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.