Lindenwood University's Board of Directors approved the construction of a new, $4 million dorm building for its Belleville campus during its Friday meeting.
The two-story, L-shaped building will be behind the Illinois State Police crime lab at the corner of West Washington and South 23rd streets near the campus student center.
"It's a very accessible location where students can easily get to class, computer labs and the dining hall," Lindenwood Vice President Jerry Bladdick said. "This will be a major step towards helping us achieve our goal of 1,200 resident students and a total of 2,000 students on this campus."
Lindenwood-Belleville currently has 780 full-time day students and about 1,700 total students.
The 25,000-square-foot building is expected to be ready for students in the fall of this year. It will house only female students.
University President James Evans said he's thrilled to see the Belleville campus reach another milestone in Lindenwood's ambitious plans to turn what was once an aging, abandoned high school into a hub of activity.
"Lindenwood is pleased beyond words that our board of directors has approved the construction of a new residence hall at our Belleville campus," Evans said. "It will be a beautiful addition to the city and it will help us to accommodate the continuing demand of a full service residential college experience at the campus.
"This building will be our second major student residence facility in Belleville after the conversion of the former Econo Lodge into a dormitory and it will enable us to provide housing for an additional 180 full-time students," Evans said. "We are proud to bring more of the best of higher education to this great municipality."
Mayor Mark Eckert said city leaders are equally as thrilled to see the addition to the school.
"The city of Belleville is extremely excited about the continued growth at Lindenwood University-Belleville," Eckert said. "This dorm marks a significant step in that growth and we are excited to be working with Lindenwood to make it a reality."
Ben Blanton, co-chair of the Lindenwood University Board of Directors, said: "I was on the ground floor of all the growth and construction at Lindenwood University in St. Charles in 1991. It's interesting to be able to witness similar things happening at the Belleville campus now."
Bladdick said the new dorms will make Lindenwood the only university in the metro-east that offers four different housing options for students. It will add traditional dorms to its existing fraternity style apartment living, family style living in one of the several houses the school purchased and rehabbed near the school and resort style living in the former Econo Lodge.
School leaders said the dorms will cater toward young students who might be uncomfortable going from living with their parents as a high school senior to moving into their own house with several strangers as a college freshman.
Regardless of what housing option students choose, living in a campus residence costs $3,930 for the room and $3,500 for board. Tuition is $14,875 a year.
In related business, Bladdick said Lindenwood will tear down the former New Freedom Baptist Church across West Main Street from the campus within the next 30 days.
Last year the school purchased the church the city had moved to condemn because of a leaky roof, mold, broken windows and other problems. Bladdick said school leaders determined there was too much damage to the building for it to be saved.
The church site will be converted into parking lots to compensate for the loss of the Pyramid Parking Lot where the new dorm will be built.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at email@example.com or call 239-2626.