More than 300 Kansas University students wanting to live on campus next year could be rejected because of renovations at Ellsworth Residence Hall.
The 450-bed hall will close in May and reopen in fall 2003. The $10 million renovation will change some traditional rooms into suites and apartments, upgrade wiring and pipes, and add rooms on the first and second floors, where university offices and a former cafeteria are now.
Ken Stoner, director of student housing, said it's too soon to know how many students will be denied rooms this fall. That would depend on the number of applications.
But he said freshmen would be given first priority in student housing, followed by students wishing to remain in the same room for next year.
Then, students who live on campus now and who want to change rooms would be admitted.
"The group most likely to not get housing will be the students who have been off campus and come back" on campus, Stoner said. "There may be nothing left for who would traditionally be the people we'd pick up later in the game."
Though Ellsworth Hall has 450 beds, Stoner said there would be 350 fewer spaces next year. That's because students won't be allowed to live in a room by themselves in the upcoming school year to create more housing spaces.
Bob Ebey of Landlords of Lawrence said he didn't think Ellsworth's temporary closing would mean much for the Lawrence rental market.
"If you get 300 people looking for a place to live, it's going to impact the market," he said. But "I don't think it's going to oversaturate the market. There are empties out there, both in apartments and single-family houses."
And he didn't think the new demand would be enough to support increasing rents.
"It'd have to be a whole lot worse before you see rents go up," he said. "I think people will charge the same rents and be happy they have somebody to rent them.
The Ellsworth renovations are part of a series of scheduled improvements to KU residence halls. Templin and Lewis halls already have been completed. Hashinger Hall will be renovated beginning in fall 2004.
KU has seven residence halls with a capacity of 3,600 residents.