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'We're working overtime': Work underway to convert hotel into VT student dorms

Around 200 freshman expected to be housed in Blacksburg Holiday Inn Express

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Holiday Inn Express in Blacksburg is being converted to house about 200 incoming Virginia Tech freshman.

Due to unexpected over-enrollment, there aren't enough dorms on campus for all of the freshmen.

Along with the dorms in the hotel, which will be referred to as HIE Student Housing while students are living there, there is also a room for a residential adviser.

It looks a little different than the dorms.

All of this is costing the University about $3 million upfront.

Work has been nonstop at the former Holiday Inn Express in Blacksburg since Virginia Tech took over Saturday.

Outside, bike racks were being installed Thursday and old mattresses were being thrown away.

Inside, washing machines and dozens of new mattresses were stacked in the lobby.

"This building will have all doubles, or two people living in a room, so we will have standard resident hall bedding and furniture's in aloft so students have more flexibility in terms of how they can set up their room," Virginia Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski said.

"This building will have all doubles, or two people living in a room, so we will have standard residence hall bedding and furniture's in a loft so students have more flexibility in terms of how they can set up their room. Right now, today, we're having our maintenance folks setting up the loss, the beds, and equipping the rooms."

Owczarski said the pool and exercise room at the former hotel will be closed and the conference room will become a study area.

While the upfront cost of the work is about $3 million, the actual cost should be less, according to Owczarski.

"The cost that the university is fronting to the Holiday Inn Express folks will be offset by the money we receive for room fees. So, what that final cost will be, we can't tell because we don't know what the occupancy of this building will be," he explained.

Students will be able to get hot breakfast every day in the hotel's lobby dining area, while the lobby itself will be an academic space.

"In many respects, again, this is the way our traditional residence halls look and feel. We are setting up this facility in much the same manner," Owczarski said.

The same goes for the university-owned Inn at Virginia Tech.

Some incoming freshmen will also be staying there.

Students start moving in on Wednesday and will be there until the end of the school year in May, at which point the building will return to a hotel.


About the Author:

Colter Anstaett

Colter Anstaett joined WSLS in January 2016 as the station’s Southside bureau reporter.

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