By SUSAN JONES
The University will pay an estimated $22 million to rent space in Oakland hotels this fall in an effort to de-densify student housing.
The Board of Trustees Property and Facilities Committee approved the plan at its meeting June 25.
David DeJong, acting senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, said the University will accommodate all students who have guaranteed housing. That means about 7,700 beds are needed. He declined to say the hotels that Pitt is in negotiations with.
A significant portion of first-year students will live in hotel residences expected to be within a 15-minute walk of campus, according to Pittwire. These hotels will operate in the same way as campus housing, with 24-hour security as well as resident assistant and resident director staff to provide supervision and support. University shuttle routes also will be updated to provide service to these locations.
There are four hotels in central Oakland: The Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, behind Alumni Hall on Lytton Avenue; the Oaklander, across Bigelow Boulevard from Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall; Hilton Garden Inn, at the corner of Forbes Avenue and McKee Place; and the Residence Inn by Marriott, on Forbes Avenue near Magee Womens Hospital. There also is a Hampton Inn in South Oakland on Hamlet Street near the Boulevard of the Allies. Prices per night at these hotels currently range from $91 at the Hampton Inn to $152 at The Oaklander.
For comparison, the University agreed in early 2019 to lease 87 apartment units with a total capacity of 230 students in The Bridge on Forbes at 3423 Forbes Ave. for three years starting Aug. 1, 2019, at a total cost of $8.7 million. The apartments are fully furnished with a full kitchen and a 50-inch Smart TV. The Bridge has been used to house many of Pitt’s student-athletes.
The seven Pitt residence halls with communal bathrooms — Forbes, Holland, Lothrop, Nordenberg and the three Litchfield Towers — typically house nearly 4,000 students, according to statistics on the Panther Central website. DeJong said the communal bathrooms would have reduced capacity, with stalls and sinks roped off to promote social distancing.
Before final room assignments are made in mid-July, students will need to re-confirm their University housing request and sign a new contract, which will be sent to them via email next week Those are due back to Pitt by July 10. Student preferences including roommates and location from their initial university housing request will be considered — these will not be updated.
Suite and apartment style housing should remain the same, but DeJong said they will consider suitemates or other similar configurations as family groups, so if one person were to get sick, the others would also have to quarantine.
Dining services will be available to all students. Newly chosen dining services partner Compass Group is teaming with Pitt to re-envision dining on campus, including the launch of all-new dining concepts and choices, additional remote ordering solutions and expanded to-go meal options for greater ease and convenience.
For more details on the housing this fall, see the FAQ on the Panther Central website.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 412-648-4294.
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