J. Alvin restoration plans begin

Residents of J.Alvin Hall may soon find themselves rejoicing as the Board of Trustees approved the planning process in renovating the 50-year-old facility.

The Board gave the University the okay earlier this week after the Advancement office secured a grant which would help kick start the project.

Steve Beers, vice president of student development, said the funds already allowed the University to secure one architect and two contractors who would help with the preliminary estimates.

The decision to consider the planning was not a hasty one. It quietly began this summer when the University and leaders of Residence Life discussed a 10-year plan involving student housing. Issues raised included a balance between traditional and non-traditional facilities, growth of the campus and on- versus off-campus housing.

“It becomes an emotional conversation because J.Alvin is such a significant part of our JBU culture,” said Beers. “And then we have to have these important discussions on how much it would cost or if it would be wiser to knock it down. So when looking at J.Alvin in the next 10 years, renovation is something that has to occur.”

Junior Broderick Wilson can testify to the need for a renovation. He said it was one of the main reasons he switched dorms during his freshmen year.

“A week after move-in the dorm started to smell horrible and it would not go away. The bathrooms always seemed to get backed up and it would sometimes cause our room to get flooded,” Wilson said.

Though Wilson returned to J.Alvin this semester to be closer to his classes, he added that the smell problem has reduced. The walls of his room contain never-ending cracks and several chips, however.

The building has received several facelifts, including a bathroom remodeling in 1994 and an air conditioning upgrade in 2000.
However, Beers said the University will use the planning grant to especially focus on student rooms and bathrooms.

The University does not want to plan anything without hearing the needs of the campus. In the next three to four months, students, staff and faculty will have the opportunity to express what the renovations should look like.

As far as putting a date for the actual renovations Beers said “the sooner the better,” but could see something happening within the next three to five years.

Once the project is finalized the plans will be handed over to the Board and they will once again vote on whether to approve the actual renovation process. If the project passes, the University will reach out to donors and alumni as the primary source of funding for the building.

“What this project means is that the University is serious about making the right decisions when it comes to men’s housing and the environment in which they live,” said Beers.