Seattle U announces plans for 10 stories of office and dorms on E Madison

8445562851_02c2b8b32fIn a move doubly important to boosting the private school’s ability to attract students, Seattle University is moving ahead with a plan to construct a new 10-story building on the northern edge of the campus, the school’s president announced last week.

Seattle U president Stephen Sundborg announced the project last week as part of a letter broadly outlining a review of the school’s business and operations that has been underway for “the last several months across the non-academic parts of the university.” CHS reported in late 2014 on spending cuts at the Jesuit Catholic university and a budget shortfall after enrollment failed to meet the school’s goals.

UPDATE 6/17/2016: The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council is encouraging people interested in the Seattle U project to attend Monday, June 20th’s meeting of the Seattle University Standing Advisory Committee:

Monday, June 20th, 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, Stuart T Rolfe Room, Ground Floor to the left of the Main Entry
This group advises the City of Seattle and Seattle University on issues related to the design and construction of new buildings and other projects proposed under the City-adopted Seattle University Master Plan.

“SU is proposing a major redevelopment of the site they own at the southwest corner of 12th and Madison,” the PPUNC announcement reads. “Scope includes the Public Storage Building as well as the parking lot immediately to its west. This type of project will not go through Design Review, so this is your chance to opine.”

Original report: The combined new Enrollment Services building and dorms might not be great for studying. The Pike/Pine entertainment and nightlife district will be within view just across E Madison — at least until more six and seven-story developments rise there. But the project will address the needs of one of its most important divisions as the school faces ongoing competition to attract new students.

“I called for this review because I recognize that the environment of higher education is changing and increasingly challenging, and, in this context, it is important and healthy for an organization to take time to look closely at itself, examine how it can become more effective, and better understand how it can thrive and best fulfill its mission amid these changes,” Sundborg wrote about the review.

Artist rendition of Seattle U, 2028 (Image: Seattle University)

Artist rendition of Seattle U, 2028 (Image: Seattle University)

Sundborg said a review of the school’s “Finance division” included “consideration of our real estate holdings and how they can be better utilized to provide financial support for the university.”

The planned ten-story building will rise at 1107 E Madison next to the self-storage building also owned by the university. It will replace a mostly empty area of parking and alleyway. The project is planned to stand 105 feet tall. It will include nine parking spaces, according to permit information.

The school plans for the first two floors to be the new home for the Enrollment Services offices.

The top eight floors of the project will serve as a new residence hall with 285 beds for juniors and seniors “in an apartment design and expanding and upgrading our housing inventory.”

Moving Enrollment Services is also part of the process to prepare for the removal of the old University Services building in preparation for planned construction of a new Center for Science and Innovation on the campus. That project, by the way, has been the center of a massive fundraising by the school capped by a $30 million gift from an anonymous donor announced last year.

Back on E Madison, the additional student housing should also provide some assistance on reaching Seattle U’s enrollment goals. Soaring rent around Capitol Hill has also hit students, of course, and demand for school-provided housing is high. The opening of Capitol Hill Station and the First Hill Streetcar will also help provide Seattle U students with more options.

Included in the plan is a change for the storage building at 12th and Madison that will transform the ground floor into a new home for SU’s campus bookstore. The profitable storage business would likely remain part of the building’s upper floors.

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Powered by it ability to plan as a major institution with its more generous zoning capabilities, Seattle U and also Seattle Central have unique opportunities to provide more housing in the area. CHS reported on Seattle U’s Major Institution Master Plan process back in 2012 with details on the school’s hopes to add 2.4 acres of land and 2 million square feet of campus development by 2028.

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