Ole Avenue Project moves forward
After thoughtful deliberation, the St. Olaf College Board of Regents voted this fall to resume the Ole Avenue Project.
The project, which was paused last spring when the pandemic stuck, features the construction of a new 300-bed residence hall on the south side of St. Olaf Avenue as well as townhouse-style residences with 140 student beds that will replace the honor houses on the north side of St. Olaf Avenue.
“Living and learning together in community is a hallmark of the St. Olaf experience. We are making this investment in housing to ensure that our residence life experience matches the caliber of our academic experience,” says St. Olaf President David R. Anderson ’74. “This is a consequential project that will support generations of students.”
Living and learning together in community is a hallmark of the St. Olaf experience. We are making this investment in housing to ensure that our residence life experience matches the caliber of our academic experience. This is a consequential project that will support generations of students.President David R. Anderson ’74
The residence hall will be built first, with occupancy anticipated in the fall of 2022. The President’s House on the south side of St. Olaf Avenue has already been removed, and that is where the new residence hall will be built. Sewer lines on the main level of the President’s House had been deteriorating and causing leaks in the basement, so the college moved forward with demolishing the house several months ago due to health and safety concerns and to begin preparing the site for construction of the new residence hall.
Seven college-owned houses on the north side of St. Olaf Avenue, which have become financially unfeasible to maintain, will be removed at the end of May 2021 to make way for the new townhouse–style residences. These are also expected to be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2022. Boe House, the current home of the college’s counseling services, will be one of the houses removed. The Counseling Center will be relocated in the east wing of the new residence hall with a separate entrance.
The Ole Avenue Project creates a new gateway between St. Olaf and the community on the eastern edge of campus. It will help St. Olaf address a three-decades-long housing shortage on campus and improve the residential experience for all students.
The Ole Avenue Project has been designed to meet the needs of students today and in the future. The residence hall and townhouses will meet today’s standards for fire safety, accessibility, egress, indoor air quality, and other essentials, including allowing the college to have a more gender inclusive approach to housing students.
St. Olaf students have helped inform the development of this project over the past two years by participating in surveys, focus groups, and community meetings about the college’s existing on-campus housing and needs for the future.