$107.8M lofts open to residents
Calhoun Lofts opened its doors Aug. 5 with a ceremony that featured speeches by UH President Renu Khator and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.
When addressing the crowd, Khator said Calhoun Lofts and the freshman residence hall, which is under construction, was going to take UH to the level of a flagship university.
‘One of the things of a tier one university is the residential experience for students,’ she said. ‘That gives student a comprehensive environment.’
Khator said the lofts will help the University remove its commuter school label by attracting students who would otherwise live off campus.
‘Being a residential campus does not mean everyone is going to live on campus,’ she said. ‘The residential campus is defined by any campus that has 25 percent of its student body living either on campus or in campus-affiliated units, so we need to reach that point.’
According to a March 2009 Transportation Project Proposal, 12 percent of UH students live on campus.
Despite support from administrators, who may not feel comfortable about attacking the building, many students are upset about the money UH could lose if the lofts cannot reach full occupancy.
The lofts were built with the intention of housing graduate and professional students. After facing severe challenges with marketing,’ as’ the lofts” occupancy rate is’ slightly more than 50 percent, UH decided to open the lofts to upper classmen, faculty and staff. Khator told the Houston Chronicle that’ students from other academic institutions in the area will also be’ allowed to rent’ vacant lofts.’
In Nov. 2006 The Board of Regents, under former UH President Jay Gogue, approved construction of the lofts. At that time, the cost of building the lofts was estimated at $99 million.
Pepper-Lawson Construction began building Calhoun Lofts in Aug. 2007, and additional costs arose during the nearly two-year construction process. According to a UH Aug. 11, 2009 document that reports the status of campus projects, the building’s final cost was $107.8 million.
Poicitcal science sophomore Toni Howard said the University squandered money building the lofts and should have used the funding for other projects.
‘I think it’s probably an exceptional idea, but not at the right time,’ Howard said. ‘They wasted money. They were rushing it, and they shouldn’t have built it.If you count it up for a year, that is tuition money,’ she said. ‘That is like both semesters put together.’
A 668-sqaure-foot two bedroom/one bath, in which monthly rent ranges from $745 to $765 per person, is the cheapest option for students. This equates to $3,725 for a five-month stay (August-December) and $7,450 for 10 months.
341-square-foot efficiencies cost $810-$830 per month, and a 492-square-foot one bedroom/one bathroom lofts range from $995-$1025.
Kirksey Architecture designed the 10-story, 575,000-square-foot building. Wes Good of Kirksey Architecture said the design process took nine months.