LEWISTON — A project to build two new Campus Avenue student dormitories over the next two summers is a key part to Bates College’s master plan for the next 20 years.

The dorms, with around 230 beds, should open in time for the 2016-17 school year. They’re designed to give students — and the college’s renovation plans for the rest of the campus — a little elbow room.

“We are building in a cushion of space to do some renovation,” said Pam Wichroski, the college’s director of capital planning and construction. “Right now, we are so saturated with students that we have no swing space to do any renovations.”

Crews should begin knocking down buildings at 55 and 65 Campus Ave. late this summer, making way for two new student dorms at the southern edge of Bates College’s campus. One will be built between Bardwell and Franklin streets, the other between Franklin Street and Central Avenue.

Bates has an estimated 1,730 students and all but 125 live on campus. Off-campus residents have to apply to live in private housing.

Existing dorms are very crowded, she said. For example, Smith Hall houses up to 150 students, but was designed in the early 1950s with room for 75 students.


“The rooms are two-room doubles built for two students, with one room for sleeping and another for use as a study-living area,” she said. “Now, with four students per unit, they don’t have that study space. We’ll go back to that, so they’ll become very nice rooms, the way it was originally designed.”

Wichroski said the new dorms will allow the school to move students out of Smith Hall to make room for renovations there.

“We have such a short summer for renovation projects,” she said. “It comes down to weeks, when you consider our summer programs. We basically have no time to get in and do renovations.”

Assistant Vice President for Financial Planning Doug Ginevan said the college is working with neighbors and the city to design the project. The Central Avenue building will have public retail shops — possibly a book store and a coffee shop. The western building will be back up to Bardwell Street, creating a green space plaza along Franklin Street.

“Our goal is to prevent the building of what could be perceived of as a wall,” Ginevan said. “That would happen with both building fronts facing Campus Avenue. We’ve purposely turned one building to allow green space in front of it. We’ve had feedback from neighbors that this will feel more like community-park space, as opposed to Bates space.”

College representatives have been meeting with neighbors and the project is scheduled to get a full review with the Planning Board this summer.

“We just have a general idea now, with really rough floor plans,” Wichroski said. “We are still looking at the scope. We have a series of wants and to-dos and we are pricing them and vetting them out to form a scope for the whole project.”

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