Buckingham and school officials

EVANSVILLE, IN- The University of Evansville and the Buckingham Companies just broke ground on a project that will reconstruct an Evansville neighborhood, known as the Village, which now consists of aging homes owned by the school and occupied by junior and seniors.

When the university, located near the Ohio River in Southwestern Indiana, began developing its new master plan for facilities, “student housing emerged as our highest institutional priority,” President Thomas A. Kazee told GlobeSt.com. “One of the very first steps is to raze a lot of these older houses [in the Village] and replace them with townhouse-style homes. We intend to replace all or nearly all of the Village houses. This is a critical need for us to address if we’re going to continue to attract new students and grow.”

The university has set an aggressive construction schedule for the $8.5 million project. Kazee expects Buckingham, an Indianapolis developer, to complete three of the six proposed townhouses by August and the rest by 2014. Four students will share each two-story townhouse apartment and the project will eventually accommodate about 150 students, mostly junior and seniors.

The privately-owned school has about 2,350 students and has been rated one of the ten best regional universities in the Midwest by US News & World Report. Most of the students come from Indiana or the adjacent states and about 70% live in student housing.

“We anticipate being a residential institution forever,” Kazee added. He believes the new construction will ensure that the older students who want the independent style of living offered by the Village enjoy the same housing standards of the more traditional dormitories. “Nothing we’re doing is redefining the student housing living experience. We’re using a time-tested model and we just need for them to be confidant that they will have a place” with modern conveniences. All apartments will include free Wi-Fi and digital cable, Ethernet in each living room and new furniture and appliances.     

And students have been clamoring to get into the new Village, Kazee said. “We’ve already filled all of the rooms.”