Ohio University bought more than just a residence hall when it purchased Bromley Hall; it also bought itself a new cafeteria, a new conference center, a new home for its Continuing Education department and the ability to renovate the existing dorms on campus.
The university announced Tuesday that it has purchased the nine-story Bromley Hall from the Bromley Group, which is based in Champaign, Ill., for $6 million.
Gary North, vice president for administration at OU, said Tuesday that conservative estimates by the university show that the building will pay for itself in 15 years. The 158,688-square-foot building has 520 beds, a swimming pool, a fitness center, conference rooms and a cafeteria. The university had been renting parts of the building for several years, North said, so when it came up for sale it made sense for the university to buy it.
"We'll be running it just like any other residence hall," North said. The building will house mainly upperclass and graduate students and will provide another living option for students who want to live in university housing in the uptown area.
The building will be run by OU employees, and beginning next year the cafeteria will be open to all OU students.
"We think this really provides a nice option for students in this area who may want to get a meal on the main campus area and not walk back to their dorms," North said. Students who live in Bromley Hall will also be able eat in the other cafeterias on campus, he added.
The swimming pool and the fitness center, according to North, will only be open to the students who live in Bromley Hall.
The rooms will receive the personal computers that all OU residence hall rooms are equipped with, and they also will receive the dorms' standard mini-refrigerators, OU cable system and campus phones, North said.
"It's a better deal in many respects," North said about the arrangement for students living in the building. The students will receive many different amenities, but they will pay rates similar to what students pay in other residence halls on campus, he added.
Sixteen Bromley Hall residents had already signed leases for next year, North said, and the university will honor the leases for the rooms, and also give the students the option of canceling the leases if they want to.
Bromley Hall was not fully occupied this year, and had a lot of open space, North said. The university considered leasing the entire building but instead decided to buy it in order to ease the housing crunch on campus.
Adding 520 bedrooms frees up space on campus to do renovations to the existing residence halls, he said. This year, Johnson Hall is being renovated, and next year Biddle Hall will be renovated, he added.
One or two residence halls will be closed each year for the next 10 years until all the East Green halls are renovated, he said.
"The graduation rate in Ohio is projected to go up in the next 10 or 12 years," North said. The university expects enrollment to grow modestly, although it will still stay in the 19,000 to 20,000 range, North said.
University officials had considered building a new residence hall on the rugby field on the South Green, but that would have taken three years to get built and would have cost $21.45 million, North said.
"This is immediately available," North said. "This solves a problem for us." Bromley Hall is in very good condition, he added, and the university will not have to do much to the building over the summer to get it ready for students in the fall.
The Bromley Hall purchase also gives the university air-conditioned dorm rooms and meeting rooms for summer conferences and workshops, North added. In the past, the university kept many of its summer visitors on campus in rooms that often were not air-conditioned and did not have as much space.
"It really works nicely as a summer conference center for small groups or for teens," North said about Bromley Hall.
SEVERAL BROMLEY HALL RESIDENTS said Tuesday that they did not know that OU had bought the building, but they were happy about the change.
Denia Williams, 21, a junior from Zanesville, said that she enjoys living in Bromley Hall and thinks any changes will be positive. Williams said she believes the change to an OU cafeteria will improve the food service in the building.
One of things that makes Bromley Hall better than most dorms, she said, is that the rooms have private bathrooms. Most bathrooms are shared by the residents of two