Villanova University plans to build two new dorms and a performing arts center on its suburban Philadelphia campus.
The plan, which will be presented to the Radnor Township Board of Supervisors next Monday, is to make the university more campus-centric, bringing students back from off-campus living among the local residents, reports the Inquirer.
The new dorms would replace parking lots on Lancaster Avenue, the main thoroughfare that cuts through campus.
"It takes these nondescript ugly parking lots that scream commuter school and transforms the university into what it is, a first-class educational institution," Ken Valosky, vice president of administration and finance, who is in charge of the project, told the Inquirer.
School officials tell The Philadelphia Inquirer the $200 million project will move about 1,100 students into on-campus housing. They say demand for campus housing is driving the project but the university is also aware of complaints from residents about students living in the otherwise quiet town of Radnor.
"What Villanova's doing in the back is wonderful, it's beautiful so it's going to be an asset," said one Radnor resident who lives near the campus. "The negative is our lane. Something has to be done with our lane, the traffic."
While the University insists students closer to campus will mean less congestion, some neighbors are still skeptical.
"We might be a little too hopeful in thinking that juniors and seniors are going to stay in these dorms," said Kate Long. "If I recall I can't remember any junior and senior wanting to stay on main campus."
The new dorms would be the first residence halls built on campus in more than a dozen years, but that doesn’t mean the university is trying to increase enrollment.
"That would defeat the whole purpose of this undertaking," Valosky told the Inquirer.
The University has allowed the community to look at the project through seminars on campus. Next week the school will meet with the Radnor Township board of commissioners. Radnor residents plan to attend the meeting as well.