COA will build a dormitory to help protect students from runaway housing prices MDI

To help insulate its students from soaring housing costs on Mount Desert Island, College of the Atlantic plans to build a new residence hall to accommodate nearly 50 students.

The college, located near downtown Bar Harbor, has an enrollment cap of 350 full-time students, 168 of whom can live on school grounds. The new dormitory, planned for the south end of campus near other residence halls, will allow them to increase the number of students they can have on campus.

It will accommodate 47 people, bringing the school’s residential capacity on campus to 215 students.

The school, which was founded in 1969, has long supported off-campus students, but has periodically increased its on-campus living options for students over the past 30 years. In 1995 he opened the 56-bed Blair/Tyson Hall of Residence, and in 2008 he completed construction of the Davis Residential Village, which can accommodate up to 51 students.

The need to provide more on-campus housing has become more acute over the past decade as housing prices in Bar Harbor and elsewhere on MDI have soared. Living off campus has become more expensive.

“As the rental and real estate markets have evolved over the past few years, creating more student accommodation has become one of our top priorities,” said Darron Collins, president of the college.

There has long been high demand among wealthy summer residents for second homes on the island, but the booming local tourist industry has pushed prices even higher as employers compete to find a home. housing for their workers and that the popularity of weekly vacation rentals on MDI has essentially turned every house or apartment on the island into a potential commercial property.

In 2018, the median price of a house in Bar Harbor was $316,500, more than $100,000 more than the median price for Hancock County and the state as a whole, according to the Maine State Housing Authority. . Last year, the local median home price was $520,000, which is $195,000 higher than the county median price and $225,000 higher than the state median price.

To help make it easier for its students to find housing, COA two years ago bought six townhouse apartments on property adjoining The Bayview Inn, which it now rents out to students during the school year and to tourists in the summer. . This summer, he plans to open the Mount Desert Center in the village of Mount Desert Northeast Harbor, which will add 15 additional beds.

In total, the additional facilities are expected to provide accommodation for 290 students, or 83% of the student body, COA officials said.

“COA’s Student Housing Plan significantly increases our on-campus capacity and, along with other recent developments, should go a long way in helping us provide a productive and beneficial living and learning environment,” Collins said.

The new building will be built to high energy efficiency standards and will have solar panels mounted on its roof. It will have nearly 12,000 square feet of floor space and will include double and single occupancy bedrooms, a fully equipped community kitchen, a large common area with exposed hardwood beams and a covered outdoor area, officials said. middle School.

COA officials hope to complete the project by fall 2023.

The project is expected to be part of a larger, but gradual, goal to revamp much of the school’s 36-acre waterfront campus. The school’s new $13 million Human Ecology Center academic building, which opened last year, is seen as part of that larger effort.

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