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SUNY Canton sets plans to finance new dorm privately

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CANTON — SUNY Canton will lease land to a private company through its alumni association for the construction of a 200-bed student housing project.

The project, which was put forth by the College Council in September, was approved by the SUNY board of trustees last month.

“Like the Grasse River housing project, this will be privately financed,” said David M. Gerlach, vice president for advancement. “For a number of years, there has not been an abundance of state resources for housing projects. This type of construction, that requires prevailing wages, is significantly more cost effective for student housing. It also enables us to get this project under way with relative ease since we just went through this process with our most recent residence hall construction.”

Though the exact type of housing — traditional dormitory, suite, townhouse or apartment — has not yet been determined, SUNY Canton will lease 5.67 acres of land on the south end of campus to the SUNY Canton Alumni Association for 42 years. The association in turn will sublet the property to an affiliate of the Canton College Foundation named Adirondack Roo LLC.

The school used a similar process when constructing the recently opened 305-bed Grasse River Suites.

“Although the project remains in the early stages, we are optimistic about building another new residence hall at SUNY Canton,” interim President Carli C. Schiffner said. “Our students are looking for more on-campus living options, especially when they reach their junior and senior years.”

At the beginning of the fall semester, SUNY Canton appealed to property owners in the surrounding village to rent rooms and space to students. SUNY Canton’s enrollment has ballooned.

In the past six years, SUNY Canton has seen a 48 percent growth in enrollment. The school has 3,800 students enrolled, but has space for only 1,350 of those students on campus — and the school is feeling the crunch.

“Although we recently added the Grasse River Suites Residence Hall, the demand is there to support another,” Mr. Gerlach said. “SUNY Canton has a high percentage of students in tripled rooms, and we’d like to decrease that number while also providing students with additional on-campus options.”

Across the village at St. Lawrence University, plans for a 150-bed dorm are under way.

Both schools hope to have their dorms complete for the 2014 fall semester.

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