VTS Announces Plans for Building New On-Campus Housing
3/6/2014FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Carol Kyber
Alexandria, Va. - During its February meeting, the Board of Trustees for Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) approved the project proposal from a task force formed in the fall of 2013 to proceed with the building of additional on-campus housing for VTS seminarians.
The underlying concerns regarding housing were driven by the financial impact to the Seminary due to rising rental costs in the Alexandria area and whether satisfactory rental housing would continue to remain available in near proximity to the campus. The first recommendation to build on-campus housing for married students was considered in the 1980s. Then the monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment was $610. Today that same apartment rents for $1,738 a month with every expectation that rental prices in the Alexandria area will continue to increase each year. The decision by the board reflects that the time had come to address the matter.
“If we do not take advantage of this opportunity now, then we are unlikely to do this work for at least another decade,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham,Ph.D., dean and president of VTS.
The work of the task force included the selection of the site, the interior floor plans, and the exterior appearance of the buildings, as well as the timing of construction and financing considerations. The final recommendation was that the Seminary should proceed with the development of 40 units of on-campus housing to the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees. The building plans were prepared by the Kerns Group Architects and will be financed through a loan arranged by S. P. Yount Financial, LLP.
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for the Seminary to meet the housing needs for students in the general Alexandria rental market. Currently, VTS rents 46 apartment units at an annual cost of $884,368, paid for out of endowed scholarship funds. This cost is expected to increase each year, as a result of increases in rent and as the number of students in need of such housing grows.
Given the aforementioned increase in costs, the current availability of favorable commercial loan rates, and appropriate construction sites on campus, the VTS administration recommended to the Board of Trustees that it was time to move forward on the matter. A task force was formed that examined a number of issues related to the siting of the proposed units, and the design of the buildings and individual apartments. Input was solicited from a variety of affected parties, students as well as members of the VTS administration and maintenance staff. Financial considerations were also taken into account for ongoing costs for management and maintenance of on-campus housing units.
The site plan for the proposed on-campus student housing, as with all construction on the VTS campus including the new Immanuel Chapel presently under construction, has to receive a special use permit from the City of Alexandria and accommodate various concerns that will be both structural and aesthetic.
“It’s been really exciting to see all the construction on campus,” said Jennifer Southall (’15) from the Diocese of Mississippi. “In my pre-seminary life I worked in fundraising for a state university, and one thing I learned is that construction is a hallmark of a healthy institution.”
Final completion of the new housing for VTS seminarians to move-in is slated for late summer in 2017.
Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 42 different dioceses and five different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.