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STATESBORO, GA-Georgia Southern University has started construction on a new 1,001-bed residence hall that will replace three older, smaller dorms. The new Centennial Place will offer amenities including a convenience store, a food court and access to both wireless and hard-wired computer technology throughout the 377,000-sf building.

GSU officials the $44-million project a model for the future, adding that it will help meet the demand for quality student housing on campus, not to mention more of it. Enrollment at the Statesboro campus is close to 17,000, and the college has a waiting list for dorms that Centennial Place should help accommodate.

Three dormitories totaling 948 beds, dating back to the 1970s, are being demolished to make way for the new residence hall. The structure will feature both two-bed rooms and “super suites” with individual bedrooms, each with access to their own bathrooms, says Vicki Hawkins, GSU director of university housing. Centennial Place is scheduled to open prior to next year’s fall semester, at which time freshmen will be required to live on campus.

“Some of the students living in Centennial Place will be grouped by major or interest,” Hawkins said in a news release. “With a gathering space on every floor, students will be able to study in groups and develop into a true living and learning community.”

Hawkins notes that it was important to GSU that Georgia-based businesses be involved in Centennial Place’s development. Valdosta-based Ambling University Development Group leads a team that includes architect Niles Bolton Associates Inc. and general contractor Hardin Construction LLC, both of Atlanta.

Dorms such as Centennial Place are becoming the norm on college campuses across the Southeast, according to Joe Dusek, vice president of Hardin’s Atlanta office. The contractor has also built residence halls at colleges in the Atlanta metropolitan area, such as Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State, he says.

“We have seen some progression toward voice-data and security systems,” Dusek tells GlobeSt.com, adding that dorm cards can also be used for other purposes besides building access, such as paying for laundry machines. There is also less emphasis on private kitchens in dorm rooms, in an effort to keep students from being too isolated from the campus population, he says.

GSU has applied for franchises for Quizno’s Subs and Cold Stone Creamery to operate within Centennial Place, along with a Pickle Barrel convenience store and an Eagle Print Shop. The building will contain close to 8,000 sf of retail space.

While some of its dorms have become functionally obsolete, GSU has made an effort over the last five years to upgrade campus housing, Dusek says. Earlier this year, the college bought the 472-bed Campus Courtyard Apartments and renamed the complex University Villas.

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