WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West Community and Technical College officials and the developer of its 108-bed student housing unit, The Villas, are discussing the possibility of constructing an addition to accommodate more students.
The college and Bluffstone LLC confirmed that the two entities are exploring the potential to construct additional rooms to the student development both agree has performed well.
While both entities acknowledged that meetings have occurred, nothing official has been determined. A representative from Bluffstone said the property management company plans to revisit the potential following Labor Day.
“To have a waitlist for two years in a row is a really nice thing,” said TD Hostikka, Minnesota West’s director of housing. “That’s what prompted us to see if we could do another.”
According to Hostikka, The Villas’ 108 beds are full and more than 40 students are currently on a waiting list for the upcoming school year.
Numbers like that is proof to Hostikka that student housing was not only a need when the college decided to build its first-ever campus housing unit more than two years ago, but that the need hasn’t been totally eradicated.
Conversations between the college and owner of The Villas seem focused on a possible addition that would range between 48 to 60 beds. The proposed addition would likely be constructed onto the south portion of the existing facility along Crailsheim Road.
If plans continue, Hostikka said the goal is to break ground sometime this fall for occupancy in fall 2020. The groundbreaking date won’t be known until if and when a final agreement has been signed between the college and Bluffstone.
“There hasn’t been anything but positive (remarks) from students,” Hostikka said of the first year housing students on campus. “It makes parents more comfortable, and they don’t have to stress out where their kids are going when they get to (Worthington).”
While Hostikka is positive about the property’s first-year hosting students, he didn’t deny that it was a learning curve. He said important things that staff need to address before students move in to the existing facility this fall include minimizing or eliminating the students who sign a lease agreement but don’t show.
“That makes it difficult for any business,” he said.
He added that a synergy must also be developed between the college and Bluffstone to address student discipline to ensure a safe environment for all students.
“All sorts of different things one might need to think about when you have 108 people under one roof,” Hostikka said.
Parking and drainage issues also need to be addressed.
There are 42 designated parking spaces directly in front of The Villas for the 108 student-capacity facility, Hostikka said.
The idea, Hostikka added, was that the parking lots in front of the Administration Building and near the women’s softball field would provide overflow parking and students could walk to The Villas.
“That’s not happening,” Hostikka said. “In the dead of winter, people don’t want to park there.”
Instead, students would use the side of Crailsheim Road for overflow parking. It prompted Nobles County to install “No Parking” signs.
Drainage woes for the college’s baseball diamond and Hostikka — who is also the college’s head baseball coach — was another reality this past season.
While he didn’t point to one culprit, he noted two major construction changes that occurred in the area that could have played a role.
Construction on Independent School District 518’s Worthington Learning Center and Gymnastics facility had begun, which he said “changed the whole water pathway.”
Work at The Villas, which included changing the elevation of the nearby ground, had also been completed.
“All that square footage of roof collecting rain or snow and then running down the hill,” Hostikka explained about the issue. “There’s no place to go but into my field.”
The parking lot, he added, also slopes.
“If you walk the parking lot and put something down and let it roll, it would roll right into my field,” he said.
The drainage issues forced the Minnesota West baseball team to relocate their home field to Independent School District 518’s field near the middle school.
Hostikka said that college administration has been in contact with him regarding what is needed to make the field playable next season. He expects more discussions and plans in the near future.
Remaining positive, he said: “It might turn out to be a really nice facility.”