After many student complaints and extensive Merciad coverage last year, the Highland Square Apartments have been renovated over the summer.
Renovations, which cost roughly $450,000, included the replacement of carpets, repairs to window frames and some kitchens, replacement of all windows with energy-efficient glass and new paint for the building interiors.
In fact, for the first time ever, the college used colored paint for upperclassmen housing. Several apartments feature one wall painted with a bright color, which “adds interest,” according to Assistant Vice President of Student Life Laura Zirkle.
Resident of the Highland Square Apartments, sophomore Alicia Cagle said, “We enjoy the blue wall. It’s a nice splash of color.”
The repairs also contribute to the green initiatives of Mercyhurst College.
Last year, students complained of snow coming in through cracks in the windows. The new energy-efficient windows will reduce heating while keeping precipitation outdoors.
“I just hope it’s warm in the winter because I heard that was a problem with the windows last year,” Cagle said.
Vice President of Student Life Dr. Gerry Tobin said, “It’s a qualitatively different living experience we’re trying to create.”
Last year, many residents of the Highland Square Apartments complained about dismal housing conditions within the first few weeks of classes.
This year, by contrast, no complaints have been filed, and only a few minor repairs have been reported to maintenance.
The four apartment buildings on Briggs and Lewis, constructed shortly after World War II, have never been in as good condition as other student housing options. In the past, the college has struggled to maintain conditions comparable to other student housing, but the recent renovations have allowed the college to leap ahead in terms of repairs.
Junior KC Stoyer said her Highland Square Apartment is better than the apartment she lived in last year.
Students and college officials have been concerned about the Highland Square Apartments for several years.
Zirkle said, “The Merciad’s been a big help.” The newspaper closely followed the situation last year when students protested worsening conditions and the college considered razing the apartments altogether.
“We hope that students will feel they’ve been heard,” Tobin said.
The college plans to continue renovations next year, but no specific plans have been released.