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36 NOBTS student apartments: first expansion in 30 years

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Responding to record-breaking enrollment and a growing need for more student housing particularly for larger families, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees gave approval Oct. 10 to build 36 units of four-bedroom apartments. The decision was followed by a special ground-breaking ceremony with trustees and other seminary officials.

The trustees had given preliminary approval in June 2001 to the new housing after being shown architectural renderings of three centrally located, three-story, 12-unit buildings. The apartment plans were designed by the New Orleans architectural firm of Howard, Montgomery & Steger in consultation with the architectural firm that developed the seminary’s original master plan.

On Oct. 10, the trustees unanimously adopted a revision to the original master plan which effectively transposes the campus’ residential and recreational quadrants, taking advantage of lower infrastructure costs and avoiding additional delays.

“Our students have been very patient as we did the necessary work to get our plans for the future in place,” President Chuck Kelley said. “Now it is time for us to move as quickly as possible to provide contemporary, affordable housing for our student families.”

Designed in the same French Colonial architecture style used throughout the seminary campus, the 1,163-square-foot apartments will feature central entryways for each unit to help reduce the outside noise level. Each apartment also will contain (approx.) 9-foot ceilings, washer-dryer hookups and double sinks in the kitchens, reflecting features considered desirable by a student focus group involved in planning the student housing.

Additionally, each unit will be built with contemporary construction materials that will protect from termite destruction, said Mike Howard, from Howard, Montgomery & Steger. He added that the apartments were designed with a number of safety features, including a sprinkler system, firewalls and use of non-combustible materials.

The new student housing, the first to be built in more than 30 years on the seminary campus, will cost about $5 million, which includes about $500,000 for deferred maintenance, Kelley said. That breaks down to about $1.5 million per building, or $125,000 per apartment, he said.

Moreover, it will cost about $552,000 to prepare the site where the housing will be located, Kelley said. Nevertheless, the students’ rent will remain around $500, which is only about $50 more than the current multi-bedroomed housing rent costs, he said.

The new student housing is part of Phase I of the New Horizons campaign, the seminary’s fundraising effort to revitalize the campus and provide for a multitude of student needs. A four-phase project that will span two decades, the campaign was approved by NOBTS trustees in March 1999 and by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 2000 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The public phase of the campaign kicked off in March with Phase I, which includes plans to raise $4 to $6 million for the Student Family Village. Since its kickoff, the campaign already has received more than $6.6 million dollars in pledges and actual giving, reported Jerry Pounds, vice president for development.

Groundbreaking for the new student housing had been delayed pending reaction to the earlier Baptist General Convention of Texas decision to defund the six SBC seminaries and by the urgent renovation of the Bunyan classroom building due to Formosan termite destruction.

“New housing for students will meet one of the biggest priority needs on our campus,” Pounds said. “Once again this particular project will communicate our desire to provide the very best we can for our students and their families. We pray that God will continue to provide the resources to rebuild our campus in order to help us accomplish our mission.”

In his prayer consecrating the new housing for students, Ron Yarbrough, the chairman of the trustees’ buildings and grounds committee, said, “Lord, may you bless the students who are training at this seminary and going into this lost and dying world. This place is possible because of your grace and love.”

    About the Author

  • Shannon Baker

    Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and editor of the Network’s weekly newsletter, BRN United.

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