New on-campus housing project could begin in Lot 22 sooner rather than later

Cars sit parked in commuter Lot 22 on Washington Street Feb. 10

One of Central Michigan University's largest commuter lots could begin repurposing to a new apartment complex by next semester.

The planned apartment complex, called the Washington Commons, would be built along Washington Street between the Towers community and Preston Street. 

The complex is a part of CMU's Master Plan which was presented to the Board of Trustees at its Sept. 23, 2021 meeting. Trustees agreed to the $1.5 million project design.

Through emails, some faculty members have already been alerted that Lot 22 will be closed for construction at the beginning of the summer.

"After this semester, faculty will need to park in other lots on campus with designated faculty spaces, such as Lot 16, Lot 6F, Lot 56 and Lot 23," an email from the dean's office at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences read.

However, the university has said the project still must receive approval from the Board of Trustees. 

“If approved by the Board of Trustees, the proposed Washington Commons residential community project would be located in the space currently occupied by Lot 22,” Director of Communications, Aaron Mills said in a statement.“In developing the project proposal, CMU leaders included plans to add new parking areas and to reallocate existing parking spaces to ensure students, faculty and staff continue to have ample access to parking.”

Lot 22, which contains around 900 parking spots, is one of the largest commuter lots on campus.  

Washington Commons will replace the over 50-year old Northwest Apartments and Kewadin Village that "regularly require heavy maintenance," according to a Sept. 23, 2021 press release.

The two complexes would be demolished if the project is approved.

At the Dec. 7 Board of Trustees meeting, President Bob Davies said the project is "building for the future."

"One of the reasons why we are losing students to other institutions is because of our residential hall capacity. The other part of it is that Northwest and Kewadin have outlived their useful life. So Washington Commons will basically be the replacement," Davies said. 

He said after Northwest and Kewadin are demolished, the total number of beds will decrease slightly.

Kewadin Village is home to a large number of nontraditional students and their families. The Northwest Apartments complex is known for being one of the most affordable on-campus housing options because living there doesn't require students to purchase a meal plan. 

Trustees meet for their formal session on Feb. 17. Mills said the plan requires approval from the Board of Trustees before moving forward. To address the board, speakers must fill out the form available on CMU's website. 

“Plans for design and financing of the Washington Commons project have not yet been approved by the Board of Trustees," Mills said. "If and when the project proposal moves forward, we will update the campus community on plans and progress.”