The Northwest College Board of Trustees is considering a new master housing plan that proposes selling off Trapper Village West. College officials are considering a number of changes to the student housing offered at NWC.
With enrollment down and fewer students living in Northwest College dorms and apartments, college leaders are considering some substantial changes to student housing.
A plan presented to the NWC Board of Trustees earlier this month calls for selling Trapper Village West, demolishing Cody Hall, renovating the Trapper Main Apartments and improving Ashley Hall within the next four years.
Meanwhile, Colter and Lewis & Clark halls could possibly be eliminated or repurposed within the coming decade. Simpson Hall — the campus’ newest housing building — would continue to be utilized as it is now.
The changes laid out in the housing master plan, if adopted by the board, would depend on available funding.
The board did not vote on the document — which is the culmination of years of analysis — at its Feb. 3 meeting, but will consider it at future board meetings. The plan has been endorsed by the college’s facilities committee.
Board President Dusty Spomer said the facilities committee dismissed the idea of maintaining NWC’s housing inventory just because it’s there. Instead, they guided future needs based on current and projected student needs.
In recent years, occupancy rates at Northwest College’s units have declined alongside enrollment. The resulting drop in revenues has led the board of trustees to take a look at adjusting on campus housing to better fit changing student needs. For instance, the board voted to lower rates at some on-campus units.
At its peak, the college had a housing capacity of 718 beds. With Cody and Colter halls currently closed, that has fallen to 450. Under the new master plan, the campus would have a total bed count of 442 by 2030, which the document says would “right-size” bed counts to fit demand projections.
The recommendations in the plan are laid out in such a way that capacity can later be expanded and plans altered if demand for student housing changes in the future.
Current campus occupancy rates sit at about 66%, according to the master plan, and an optimal rate would approach 95%. The plan aims to get that figure to 80% in the short term and eventually hit 90%; while lower than the optimal rate, it would allow for a buffer to absorb fluctuations in enrollment.
According to the plan, demolishing Cody Hall and selling off Trapper Village West would raise occupancy rates above 73%.
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