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UK Building Boom Continues With Boyd, Holmes Halls (Updated)

The University of Kentucky invited parents, and students, and the public into the school’s newest residence halls Tuesday, buildings that bring the total of new beds on campus close to 6,000.

In fact, the open houses and ribbon cuttings are starting to feel like old hat…

"This is our fourth year of delivering new student housing for the students of the University of Kentucky and each year it gets better and better," said Randy Churchey with EdR, the private collegiate housing builder responsible for the communities springing up around UK.

The latest pair of pristine additions, Boyd and Holmes Halls – both named after women leaders at the university, are situated on the north end of campus across from the new student center, due in early 2018.

"The architecture of these halls also embrace the location within the campus, so as we move closer to downtown you see more steel, more metallic looks, more glass to really model the downtown connection as well," UK Vice President of Finance and Administration Eric Monday.

By this weekend, the color-coded hallways will be buzzing with students gearing up for the fall semester. They’ll discover mostly two-person suites much like the other new rooms on campus – with full kitchens on each floor, TVs all outfitted with plug-ins for laptops, and even community washers and dryers that can alert students when they’re finished.

The relatively luxurious digs have come into criticism, mainly from lawmakers in Frankfort who have described the new construction push as “castle building.” In response, Monday said the new halls are at 100 percent capacity and school expects that trend to continue as newer communities come online.

Pocketbook Pressure

Yet after the cake has been cut and red carpet is rolled up, UK's new, amenity-rich facilities come with a price.

Over the last five years, the university has poured more than $2 billion into new facilities, ushering in what’s been billed as the largest on-campus housing revitalization effort in American public higher education. With a desire to control costs in slim budget times, UK garnered national attention from the New York Times with the size and scope of its public/private partnership experiment.

While the arrangement takes some financial pressure off of the school, students wishing to snag the coveted rooms – not to mention their parents – will feel the difference when the bill comes due. Those bunking with a roommate in the older traditional double occupancy rooms on campus will pay close to $2,500 per semester for housing. For others upgrading to the new privately-run halls, that figure jumps another $1,600.

Still, Monday says the signs-ups tell the story.

"These are competitively priced and they are in high demand," he argues. "I think our students vote with their feet."

About 1,100 more students will be paying those premium price-tags this fall as Boy and Holmes Halls open their doors.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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