WORTHINGTON — Sunday will be an unusually busy day at Minnesota West Technical and Community College’s Worthington campus.
That’s when a majority of Minnesota West students poised to live in the college’s first-ever designated student housing units will move into where they’ll call home for the next 10 months.
“I’m really excited,” said Bluejay Villas Property Manager Logan Ahlers of welcoming the first students to the college’s much-anticipated housing project.
Before Sunday’s early move-in day for student athletes, local residents had the opportunity to get an inside look at the college’s new $6.4 million publicly and privately financed project along Crailsheim Road during a Friday afternoon open house.
The secure three-story, two- and four-bedroom unit dwelling has a 108-student capacity. Each style includes a shared common space among four residents equipped with a kitchen and living room.
The neutral, modern-styled units are fully furnished, which includes memory-foam mattresses.
Ahlers said a student-first mentality was the basis for the units’ style and furniture selections.
“We want them to be comfortable and enjoy their time here,” Ahlers said.
The building will also contain a variety of shared spaces, including a student lounge, study room, fitness center, laundry and manager offices. Ahlers said the student lounge will include several televisions, foosball and billiards tables, a kitchenette and comfortable seating. The enclosed study room includes a large table with dry-erase capability. The 24-hour fitness center will boast cardio and weight-training equipment.
Connected to the main campus by a series of trails and near the college’s practice baseball and football fields, Ahlers said the new student housing addition provides a greater campus feel.
“It’s a great location,” Ahlers said.
According to Ahlers, Bluejay Villas will help fulfill a need for the Worthington community, where housing shortages were reiterated throughout the leasing experience of the new student-housing units.
Having broken ground in November, Ahlers said the units were completely booked by late May, which was approximately two months ahead of what was projected. He added that while Bluejay Villas was smaller in comparison to select other Bluffstone student-housing developments, it was the company’s quickest-leased project.
With the ability to fill up with minimal marketing, the dire need for appropriate student housing is apparent, he added.
“The need for housing in Worthington for Minnesota West students is huge,” he said. “The ability to get and maintain more students is partially reliant on adequate student housing.”
Throughout his experience with Bluejay Villas, Ahlers said available student-housing is often the difference between a student choosing Minnesota West and going elsewhere.
While the new facility is a huge step in meeting that need, approximately 70 students remain on the waiting list. Ahlers is proud of the dent made in the shortage, but thinks additional beds would not go unfilled.
That is a strong possibility, as dirt work has already been completed for a second phase, which would include another dwelling.
“It’s penciled in,” he said.
Ahlers said the results of this year will determine whether a phase two is in the cards, which would likely open in fall 2020.
The project is funded by a $900,000 loan from the city of Worthington, a $500,000 state grant and private funders First National Bank of Fulda and First American State Bank of Bettendorf, Iowa.
On behalf of the college and its students, Minnesota West President Terry Gaalswyk expressed sincere appreciation to Minnesota State, District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, the Worthington City Council and Bluffstone for helping develop what he called an innovative public/private partnership.
While the 10-month leases are only available to Minnesota West students, Ahlers said the college does have the potential to open its doors to the community during the summer months.
Ahlers said Bluejay Villas will be able to house young adults who intern at local businesses or various summer camps.
“I have a feeling those will fill up quickly,” he said about temporary summer leases. “I think the Villas can be a player in community involvement in that way, to help get some fresh faces in town. If they are able to spend a summer in Worthington, maybe they’ll want to come back one day to live and raise a family.”
Ahlers said anyone interested in potentially reserving a summer 2019 lease can contact him at 360-2734.