Jim Ellis

Special to the Grove Sun

One positive from the hot and dry weather that has gripped the area: work on the new student housing complex on the south end of the Northeastern A&M campus is well ahead of schedule.

Crossland Construction’s original completion date was Dec. 31, but “they think they are going to be through by Mid October and for sure by Thanksgiving,” said NEO physical plant director Steve Grimes. “This is a fast-track project, but they are not cutting any corners.” The complex, located on the corner of I Northeast and East Central Blvd., replaces three apartment buildings that were damaged beyond repair by the July 2007 flood.

Two- and four-bedroom units in the two wings allows flexibility. It can be used as

a not-so-traditional dormitory or as married housing. It includes a two-story open atrium lobby with study and social spaces, a fireplace, vending and internet cafe, on-site laundry, community kitchen and outdoor recreation spaces. It is handicapped accessible. There will be a basketball court and an amphitheater which can be used for a variety of things.

School officials are considering installing bunk beds in the rooms to allow more students a chance to live in the modern facility. Grimes said once the new building is completed, renovation of the older dorms is expected to begin. “We’ve been talking with Crossland and they did something similar at PSU (Pittsburg State University),” Grimes said. “They had modular furniture and everything ready to go - and did everything in three months. I’ve actually toured the dorms up there and its nice.” In the sign of the times, the new rooms will not be wired for phones.

NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale has included the SBG in the thought process from the start. He’s letting that group formulate a plan on who will get to live in the complex. “We talked about sophomores getting first dibs but the sophomores would fill it up by themselves,” said Carla Ott, NEO student body government vice president. “We talked about that and about grades. We haven’t decided.” Ott was floored by the facility during a recent tour. “I was impressed - I didn’t realize we had quads,” she said. “I thought they were all the doubles. I don’t know how the bunk beds will go over. Its awesome that you only have two to a bathroom. I like the balcony idea. And the amphitheater and courts. Those will be used a lot.”