WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 25, 2011, 09:52 AM

Wahpeton college explores the idea of renting underused dorms to senior citizens

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - The North Dakota State College of Sciences might soon be home to a whole new age group. The college is exploring the idea of renting part of it's campus to Lutheran Social Services for senior living as in senior citizens.

Right now it's just an idea, but with all the support, it's hard to imagine it not becoming a reality. NDSCS is looking at converting three of its underused dormitories into senior housing.

John Richman: “As we looked at this, we found more and more seniors that wanted to downsize their living dwelling, but we also saw them wanting the cultural, the educational pieces of a campus.”

The residence halls that would be used are located on the southeast corner of campus and were built half a century ago.

Richman: “These dorms, these residential halls were built back in the 60's and they have that style. And it's not the style that even today's college student wants to live in.”

Right now McMahon Hall is empty. Now if the agreement goes through, all three dormitories would combine for 72 senior apartments.

Jessica Thomasson: “When you have the opportunity to work with seniors on a college campus where there is so much opportunity for activity and interaction and life long learning. I think it could be an exciting project.”

The halls would be completely gutted and remodeled. The senior area would be separate from the students, but the partnership could create multiple educational and financial opportunities for the college.

Thomasson: “There are a lot of questions to answer, but I think this project has a lot of merit and we are really excited about the possibilities.”

Richman will present the idea before the state board of higher education on Thursday. Richman says if everything goes perfectly according to plan, seniors could be living in the halls within two years.