WSU Foundation buys properties for future residence hall

The+proposed+plan+for+the+new+residence+hall%2C+Mark+and+Main.+The+current+properties+were+recently+purchased+by+Winona+State+University+on+the+corner+of+Mark+Street+and+Main+Street.+

Contributed by: Winona State University

The proposed plan for the new residence hall, Mark and Main. The current properties were recently purchased by Winona State University on the corner of Mark Street and Main Street.

Reanne Weil, News Reporter

With the proposition of a new dormitory, the Winona State University (WSU) Foundation recently purchased three privately owned apartment buildings on the 100 block of West Mark Street. Like the East Lake Apartments, this residence hall would be WSU Foundation property, not university owned.

For the off-campus residents living in those apartments, they were told in the Fall of 2022 to make new living accommodations for Spring semester. According to Jon Olson, Vice President of University Advancement and head of the WSU Foundation, they were given until Fall Commencement Day to pack up their items.

“We told the students if they wanted to move on campus, it would be rent free,” Olson said. “If they made plans to move off-campus somewhere else, we offered to pay half of their rent. We didn’t want the students to stress over this.”

Olson and others helped the residents move their belongings out of the buildings on Commencement Day.

Sarah Olcott, the Director of Housing and Residence Life at Winona State, is a key contributor to the ideas and construction behind the new project and spoke highly of the benefits it will bring to students.

“The rooms will have a walk-in closet design for two residents to share,” Olcott said. “Everything in this building will be brand new. I think adding a new design to our portfolio is going to help us attract first-year students.”

The most recent dormitories at Winona State, built in 2010, were Kirkland and Haake Halls. Being that they were constructed closely to the train tracks, the buildings are lacking in outdoor space for students to gather. Olcott claimed she made sure that was in her mind when constructing the outline for the resident hall.

The properties lay across from the Integrated Wellness Center. With the most recent residence halls, Kirkland-Haake, being built in 2010, the university plans on implementing new halls for students to live in. (Nathan Kronbeck)

“We wanted to make sure that there was some volleyball space,” Olcott said. “They [the nets] might only be used about four weeks a year, but for a lot of students, that is where they find their community at the beginning of the year. We wanted to make sure this building had some sort of outdoor gathering space.”

The goal of the new residence hall is to modernize the campus and stay competitive with the other universities in the market area. Both Olcott and Olson believe that this building will do just that.

“We are setting the roof up to be strong enough for more solar panels, we’ll have foosball tables and gaming areas,” Olson said. “It’s got the potential of being a really quality space for students.”

Olson further explained how important it is for the WSU Foundation and Housing and Residence Life to give back to the students.

“We know that our students are the best in the system, and we want to give them the best,” Olson said. “If the best in housing means that we need to construct a new residence hall for you all, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

There is no expected start or end date of this project due to inflation rates putting a pause on construction.

“We’re still continuing to discuss and dream the project while in this ‘active pause,’” Olcott said. “The [WSU] Foundation is very committed and so is Housing and Residence Life to making this project work.”

Could be an interesting article in the future, the university has been facing budgeting issues (shutting down programs, giving faculty early retirement deals, etc) but they have also been doing a lot of spending on different projects (upgrades around Kryzsko, solar panel project, purchasing property) It would be interesting to write about where the university’s priorities are with spending and how they make certain decisions.