Castleton University students will have a new option for housing this fall – away from campus. The 17 gender-neutral apartment-style units will be located above the Chamber of Commerce on Merchants Row in Rutland.
The new housing in downtown Rutland will offer upperclassmen the ability to live in the city while still having the security that on-campus living provides.
Expansion into Rutland is a part of the Castleton Plan, an outline for growth that was put into motion in 2014. The housing provides something unprecedented to Castleton students—city living and close proximity to internships and jobs.
“I wanted to give Castleton students who choose to do so the option of, at least, Vermont’s version of a city experience. We have this beautiful bucolic campus in a very rural setting, but I also wanted students to have the option of living and possibly working and studying in a downtown,” said President Dave Wolk.
Many students are already connected to the Rutland area through jobs or internships. For those who aren’t already, it may provide greater opportunity.
“I feel that the Rutland region is a laboratory for learning. We have over 400 internships, either volunteer or paid internships and job shadowing,” Wolk said.
According to Michael Robilotto, director of Residence Life, nine people have attended the two informational meetings he has held. He’s also received emails from additional students with questions and wanting to secure units.
“It’s a totally renovated building and they're going to be all new apartments. They're in the process of building them right now, and they’ll be ready in the fall,” Robilotto said.
For Brianna Bocelli and Brittany Verge, it’s a more attractive option than living in an apartment off campus in Castleton.
“We’re both roommates. We wanted to live off campus, but it’s too much of a chore,” Verge said.
Bocelli and Verge are interested in the freedom that off-campus housing offers while still having the security of living in Castleton housing.
“It sounds better because they’re new and there’s other kids from CU there,” Bocelli said.
The option is primarily for upperclassmen and graduate students and Wolk believes students aren’t the only one’s to benefit. The city of Rutland will also be affected by this increase in Castleton’s already evolving presence.
“It’s going through a renaissance. I also wanted us to contribute to the revitalization of Rutland,” said Wolk. “I also think it’s good for Rutland to have mature university students living, working, studying downtown…It’s a win-win,” he said.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the new housing will be it’s environmentally friendly features. Still in the demolition and planning stage, the university is working with developer Mark Foley Jr. and Green Mountain Power. They are looking into renewable energy as well as energy efficiency.
“We’re really focusing on this as being an environmentally advanced living situation,” Wolk said.
Transportation is also in the planning stages and may be provided by Marble Valley Regional Transit District.
“We are still early in the discussion stages and we anticipate that the potential convenience and availability of MVRTD would also appeal to faculty and staff, thereby lowering our footprint,” said Scott Dikeman, dean of Administration.
Despite the public transit plans, Patrick Cote-Abel, president of the sustainability club, is concerned the Rutland housing will add significantly more to the universities carbon footprint.
“I just did some worst case scenario number crunching. If every student had to drive from there to campus every day in a 2015 model car, what would that do? And that worked out to almost 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide released into the air every year, which would require almost a million trees to offset,” Cote-Abel said.
A pre-sale of the apartments will take place on March 23 in the informal lounge.