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New Orleans trustees approve new apartments

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The executive committee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustee board approved two new building projects in December, addressing urgent housing needs driven by increased student enrollment.

The $10 million initiative includes 48 two-bedroom student apartments and a two-building staff village with 11 units.

“We are very excited about beginning work on our two-bedroom student apartments and our staff village,” New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley after the Dec. 14 meeting. “This will be the first time we’ve ever built facilities specifically for staff and we are pleased about that. These are the last of our really urgent building projects.”

The full trustee board gave initial approval for the project at their October 2004 meeting and authorized the executive committee to provide final approval. The executive committee approved the project unanimously. The anticipated completion date is January 2006.

“This is a very important step in our master plan,” Kelley said. “At the end of this project, more than half of our housing will be less than five-years-old and more than half of our housing will be built termite resistant.”

The project’s urgency is driven by rising student enrollment and the sale of the seminary’s off-campus apartments, Kelley said. Last fall the seminary experienced its largest incoming class, and administrators are anticipating additional enrollment growth this spring. The seminary now has more on-campus students than it had total students nine years ago.

In June, the seminary sold its two off-campus apartments to a local university. The agreement allowed New Orleans Seminary students to remain in one 64-unit off-campus apartment building through January 2006.

“Selling the off-campus apartments was always a part of our master plan,” Kelley said. “This was the time to do it.”

The largest part of the new wave of construction will be new two-bedroom apartments for students. The 48 new apartments on Providence Place will be made up of five separate three-story buildings that will share the same monolithic slab.

In addition to the Providence Place apartments, the seminary will build new staff apartments — the first apartments built specifically for staff. The staff village will include three townhouses with three bedrooms each for staff with larger families, and eight two-bedroom staff apartments.

Along with the new housing, the seminary plans to upgrade the infrastructure in the construction areas. Roads on campus, including Providence Place and Iroquois Street, will be reconstructed, and the drainage system in the area will be improved.

Housing options at NOBTS increased recently when three new apartment buildings for single students opened. The singles apartment complex can house up to 120 students. Each apartment suite includes a common kitchen and living room, two semi-private baths and four private bedrooms. The brick buildings echo the famous architecture style of the French Quarter with wide balconies and wrought-iron decorations.

During the trustee’s executive committee meeting Chris Friedmann, associate vice president of operations at the seminary, also reported on the construction progress of the new William Carey Building. The 22,000 square foot building next to the Hardin Student Center is on schedule to be completed early in the 2005 spring semester. The building will house the William Carey College School of Nursing and a number of seminary offices.

In the fall of 1998, William Carey College’s nursing school began leasing space on the seminary campus. Since moving to the seminary from the Memorial Hospital in New Orleans, the nursing school has experienced significant growth.

The new facility will provide much-needed classroom space for the seminary while also offering a more independent home for William Carey College’s nursing school.

The nursing school will occupy the first floor of the new building, freeing up space for the seminary in the student center and another campus building. The second floor will be occupied by the seminary’s MissionLab program, Providence Learning Center and the WBSM-FM Lifesongs radio station.

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