Over the past several years, growing numbers of Montgomery County Community College students have expressed their desire to have the “full college experience,” which, for many, includes campus housing and the wrap-around services supporting it.
“Research shows that engaged students are more likely to persist and graduate,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president. “At commuter institutions like ours, many students leave campus immediately after class, which makes it challenging to create a campus identity or to grow involvement. However, students who live on or near campus have a built in support network that can help to keep them engaged and connected with their education.”
Eighteen months ago, the College began investigating the feasibility of offering student housing in partnership with a private developer. The College’s research—which included focus groups, an email survey, a peer institution analysis, an off-campus market analysis, and a financial pro forma—yielded promising results, and Pottstown emerged as an early candidate for further exploration.
“The College’s West Campus, situated in an urban, downtown setting, is easily walkable and has numerous resources that are attractive to our students—restaurants, art venues, parks, and more. Plus, it compliments the Borough’s economic redevelopment efforts,” said Dr. Steady Moono, vice president of MCCC’s West Campus.
During focus groups and a survey, students from both Central and West campuses expressed interest in Pottstown student housing. Importantly, MCCC’s peer institutional analysis revealed that community colleges with student housing report increased recruitment—especially for international students and athletes, as well as county residents—thus creating a more diverse campus environment.
As the next step in the process, the Board of Trustees authorized College officials to negotiate a letter of intent with Cross Properties, Inc., of Philadelphia, on Feb. 23. The letter of intent commits the College to working exclusively with Cross Properties to continue exploring the feasibility and logistics of developing student housing at MCCC’s West Campus in Pottstown without incurring risk or negotiating a lease agreement at this time.
According to Dr. Moono, the College issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in June 2014 and a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late July 2014, followed by presentations and Q&A sessions with five private developers, through which Cross Properties was ultimately selected.
“Over the next several months, Cross Properties, Inc. will explore potential site options, as well as land development and permitting, should the College choose to proceed with developing student housing at our West Campus in Pottstown,” said Moono.
~ by Alana J. Mauger