By Sam Phillips
Youngstown State University officials joined representatives from Hallmark Campus Communities, Fortress Real Estate Companies and Barnes and Noble College to break ground on the second phase of the University Edge student apartments and a new campus bookstore on Saturday.
YSU President Jim Tressel said the development helps the university “build and sustain growth for the years ahead”.
“It allows us to continue to expand recruitment efforts outside the immediate region, to offer high-quality alternative housing on campus and to continue to build a full and thriving college environment and experience for our students,” he said in a press release.
The first phase of University Edge, a 162-bed unit which opened in August of this year, is filled to capacity. The second phase will consist of a 220-bed unit along Lincoln Avenue, which is expected to open in Aug. 2017.
The building will also feature a “clubhouse” lounge with a fitness center, game room and computer lab.
Jack Tzgournis, president of Fortress Real Estate Co., said increased enrollment and initiative to recruit students in other regions of the country and the world made Youngstown a fitting place for the facility.
“We are very excited about what we have accomplished for phase one and we are very excited for phase two which will include Barnes and Noble,” he said.
The standalone bookstore will be a valuable resource and provide a place for students to congregate, whether they live on campus or commute, Tzgournis said.
Hallmark developed the University Edge facility and is also partnering with Fortress to build the two-story Barnes and Noble, complete with a café and convenience store. It will sit on the same block as the housing along Fifth Avenue.
The new bookstore is scheduled to open for the 2017-2018 academic year. Barnes and Noble College took control of the existing campus bookstore this year. It was previously run by the university.
Student Government Association President Tyler Miller-Gordon and Executive Vice President Gabriella Gessler said they are excited about the changes. Miller-Gordon said the new developments will serve as a “spark plug” for the community because it will attract more people and enhance the experience of current students.
“We have heard from countless students the impact that just this one building has had on not only student life, but also for the students who are looking to come here in the future,” he said. “We are extremely excited to see this diversity in our housing.”
Gessler said living close to the university makes students feel like they are part of the campus community and they hope their voices were a factor in the changes that are being made.
“We feel confident and so appreciative to say that YSU is listening to the needs of this community and that we have the capability to build these new structures for students to call their home,” she said.