Washington, DC – After more than a year’s worth of hearings, adjustments, negotiations and renegotiations, the Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia on Monday approved the University of the District of Columbia’s Master Plan. The approval is the culmination of a group of partners, centered around the university, whose goal is to build the very best institution possible, which will translate to the very best college experience for students of the only public university in the nation’s capital.
“I want to thank all the great supporters in our community who helped make this happen,” said UDC President Dr. Allen L. Sessoms. “The stage is set for a major physical revitalization of our main campus at Van Ness and for our whole neighborhood. As we celebrate 160-years of service to this community, I can think of no better way to connect this institution to the city and our citizens than by creating an institution that will benefit our students for decades to come.”
The main components of the Master Plan include the construction of an already funded $40 million student center, which will become the gateway to UDC at the corner of Van Ness St. and Connecticut Ave., NW, the construction of two 300-bed student residence halls, and the completion of the plaza deck renovation, which is already underway. The university is actually built on a parking garage, and the interior renovation of the plaza deck represents the largest ‘green roof’ initiative underway currently in the District of Columbia. See UDC’s Master Plan here:www.udc.edu/facilities/master_plan.htm.
“We can now, at long last, create a real college experience for our students,” said Dr. Sessoms, noting UDC’s status as a “commuter” campus, lacking a traditional “live on” experience for students. “This will go a long way in developing a sense of community among our students, which has been missing.”
Dr. Sessoms had high praise for DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who singlehandedly moved the student center project through the city council when Mr. Gray was chairman. The $40 million student center, which is fully funded, will feature LEED Platinum construction, the highest sustainability designation, as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council. “We have no greater friend or champion in this city than Mayor Gray,” said Dr. Sessoms, who acknowledged the support of Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, in whose district UDC’s main campus exists, and he also thanked all members of the City Council who have shown support through the process.
The campus renovations represent a significant increase in capital funding to address deferred maintenance issues on the Van Ness campus. The construction of student residence halls will be funded through a yet-to-be established public-private partnership, the details of which are being formalized now.
“This really is a tremendous day for the future of the District’s state university,” said Barbara Jumper, UDC’s Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate. “We are committed to keeping the community’s interests in mind as we move forward. And to that end, we are establishing a task- force with community members in order to keep information flowing as these projects evolve.” Completion of the plaza deck renovation is expected in Fall, 2011, and completion of the student center is expected in August, 2012.