Northeastern University is moving ahead with its plans for a student residence hall on Burke Street that will provide some 800 beds for undergraduates, a multi-use project that involves partnering with a private developer and represents an innovative approach to housing more students in university-supervised buildings.
The plans call for a building with apartment-style suites for undergraduates that will reach 20 stories and 230 feet at its highest point, with lower wings at the street edges of the site. Northeastern is partnering with American Campus Communities, a Texas-based developer that specializes in building student-housing communities. ACC will lease the university-owned Burke Street parking lot, where it will construct and manage the building, which will feature a range of student services and amenities as well as ground-floor commercial space.
Northeastern presented the project to Boston residents at a community meeting on Dec. 15, and a letter of intent was filed to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Dec. 23.
Kathy Spiegelman, vice president and chief of campus planning and development at Northeastern, said the residence hall will mirror Northeastern’s other residence halls and buildings in many important ways. Students will be held to the same code of conduct in place in other similar campus housing spaces, and resident assistants will live on site.
Because the building will be privately operated, the units will not be part of the housing lottery system. Instead, students will lease the units from the developer. Spiegelman said it’s expected that leases will be competitive with other apartment-style suites on campus, and ACC will work with students to accommodate students’ schedules while they are on co-op.
The next step is for Northeastern to submit an Institutional Master Plan notification form, a requirement as part of the city’s review of the project when amendments are made to the university’s original IMP. The proposed building is larger and will house more undergraduate students than what was outlined in the 2013 IMP.
The project addresses both Northeastern’s commitment and the city of Boston’s desire to bring more students into campus housing. With the opening of East Village last year, Northeastern now provides more than 9,100 student beds and has more than doubled its number of beds since 1998, when it provided a total of 3,663 beds. Since then, Northeastern has opened West Village, International Village, Davenport Commons, and other housing that has increased that number by more than 4,800 beds.
Meanwhile, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Boston 2030 plan outlines a goal of creating 18,500 new undergraduate student beds, which would reduce the number of students living off-campus in Boston by 50 percent.
Northeastern’s partnership with ACC—which has developed similar projects elsewhere across the country but not yet in Boston—reflects an innovative approach in the city to achieving this shared goal through privately run housing for college students.
The proposed Burke Street residence hall is the latest in the university’s series of investments and redevelopment projects that Northeastern has launched along and around Columbus Avenue. Northeastern will open the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex later this year, and last year it announced a unique public-private partnership to build a state-of-the-art athletic complex that will transform William E. Carter playground and expand recreation opportunities for both city residents and Northeastern students.
In 2009, Northeastern also opened International Village, a 1,200-bed residence hall near the intersection of Tremont Street and Melnea Cass Boulevard. And in fall 2014, the university helped secure a $20 million federal grant to make significant infrastructure improvements to the MBTA’s Ruggles Station.