Georgetown College shows off new residential townhomes

Rick Green of Carpet Solutions put down flooring in the new residential housing complex at Georgetown College. The townhomes cost around $20,000 a bed.
Rick Green of Carpet Solutions put down flooring in the new residential housing complex at Georgetown College. The townhomes cost around $20,000 a bed. Lexington Herald-Leader

GEORGETOWN — The first students are scheduled to move into Georgetown College's newest residential townhouses on Saturday, which is homecoming weekend for the 225-year-old private institution.

Hambrick Village is a $1.7 million complex of three residential buildings on the college's south side. Subcontractors were busy last week putting down Konecto flooring and cutting mortar joints for brick flashing.

Jim Barlow Sr. of Barlow Homes, a member of the college's board trustees, is the general contractor. But Todd Gambill, vice president for student life and dean of students, said Barlow is doing the project at cost.

"They've come in at a cost that is well below the industry norm," Gambill said. "Some colleges are paying $50,000 per bed or more for dormitory construction, and these are coming in at less than $20,000 a bed. So we're really excited, not with just the outstanding quality but also the price we were able to get."

Like many colleges and universities across the nation, Georgetown officials see the new living areas as essential to growth.

In a 2010 survey of College Planning & Management magazine, 90 percent of the institutions surveyed "felt the quality of their on-campus residence halls played an important role in determining whether a student attended their institution."

Translation: A college's bottom line needs bottoms in classroom seats, so keeping and retaining students is essential as schools compete for the best and the brightest.

"In some ways it's an arms race, you know?" Gambill said. "Institutions are trying to attract top students and help them have a good experience. And we're no different than that.

"We have felt for some time that we needed to upgrade our housing. It's not about needing more capacity. It's about our students deserving better housing. And it's going to be a recruitment tool."

Hambrick Village consists of 14 townhouses, and each can house six students. Each unit has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, and a kitchenette with a sink, counter and full-size fridge. The individual units do not have stoves because students are expected to eat through the campus meal plan.

However, in the middle of the center building is a commons area that will have two stoves and a laundry, plus another bed for a residential assistant.

The village is close to student parking and an intramural field. It's also across the street from the George H.W. Bush Center for Fitness, which was finished in 2002.

Students who signed up to live in Hambrick Village are currently living in Pierce Hall, a 40-year-old dorm. The college hasn't decided what will happen with Pierce when it is vacated.

"It's a possibility we will tear it down, but we haven't decided for sure yet," Gambill said.

Georgetown College has 1,100 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students. About 90 percent of the undergrads live on campus.

Hambrick is the second recent townhouse project for the college. Last year it opened Rucker Village, which is new housing for another 84 students. Together, Rucker and Hambrick will house 15 percent of the undergraduate population.

And the college isn't finished.

A lot next door to Hambrick provides space for yet another new townhouse complex. That project might start within the next two years.

Two people who appreciate the new housing won't live there. They are Horace and Maribeth Hambrick, for whom the village is named. Both are members of the class of 1949.

Horace Hambrick, great grandson of the college's first librarian, was a history professor at Georgetown for 46 years. Maribeth Hambrick's father was Ira Porter, who was on the school's board of trustees for many years. She is a former trustee, too.

"We're very proud and very appreciative, and it was very kind of the college to make that contribution," Horace Hambrick said.