The former Marriott at Towson University closed on July 1 and underwent a renovation in less than two months this summer to be converted into student housing. (Kenneth K.Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
Fast-paced renovation jobs don’t always result in “luxury,” but that's a word some transfer students were using this week as they moved into The Residences at 10 West Burke Avenue, a new dorm for Towson University.
Emily Widmaier, 19, of Long Island, N.Y., compared the new digs to a “castle.” A transfer student from the University of Tampa, she moved into 10 West Burke on Wednesday. “I walked in and was like, you have got to be kidding me.”
The university’s $2 million renovation of the building that formerly housed the Towson University Marriott Conference Hotel kicked off July 1, less than eight weeks ago. The 197-bed building is reserved for transfer students.
On Thursday afternoon students and their families were wheeling carts of suitcases and boxes into hotel suites they would have to themselves, with kitchenettes, living rooms, walk-in closets and large bathrooms. With 46 days to convert the hotel into student housing, there was no time to take out all the queen- and king-size beds.
Towson University President Kim Schatzel said opening a building for transfer students is important for the university, where nearly half the student body has transferred from other schools. More than 2,000 students transferred in this semester, according to university spokesman Sean Welsh.
Deb Moriarty, vice president for student affairs, said renovation crews left the hotel suites largely intact but made structural changes to bring them to residential safety standards. Internet cabling and trash chutes were also installed. Phones, toasters, televisions and other remnants of hotel living were donated to county schools and nonprofit organizations, she said.
Towson University has more than 22,300 students enrolled this fall, about 5,700 of them living on campus.
Welsh said the school still has about a 2,000-bed shortfall, with more students requesting housing than space for them to live.
To address the shortfall, Moriarty said, the university plans in the future to remove the larger beds in 10 West Burke and double up students in rooms to increase the capacity.
“I still can’t believe I actually live here,” said Amie Pau, 19, of Frederick, a transfer student from Frederick Community College. She said the room still felt so much like a hotel that she half expected to leave in a week.
To make it feel more like home, Pau said, she plans on adding her own decor — some lights, couch covers and art she made in high school. The red leaf-patterned carpet, a hotel remnant, is “a lot,” she said, “but I think I can work with it.”
Widmaier’s suite on the fifth floor has a kitchen, living room and walk-in closet. Her mother, Lisa Widmaier, said Wednesday the whole family sat on the king-sized bed to take a photo. They all fit easily.
“I definitely don’t need all this space,” Emily Widmaier said. “But it’s fun.”