By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — University of Michigan-Dearborn students will have a new housing option by the fall of 2013 after workers broke ground Sept. 24 at The Union, a future student housing site.
About 130 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the $30 million Urban Campus Communities development site, 760 and 780 Town Center Drive, directly across Evergreen Road from the UM-D campus.
Urban Campus Communities of Bloomfield will own the complex formerly used by Ford Motor Co. diagnostics center; Asset Campus Housing of Houstoun will manage the 231,791-square-foot buildings, which includes apartments for more than 500 students.
UM-D Chancellor Daniel Little said the new campus housing is a source of happiness and satisfaction.
“This is the first substantial residential option,” Little said. “(I’ve been) on campus for 12 years and all of that time the campus has been making the case that they want housing to have a full residential experience. This is a great next step in the future.”
Little said the university had housing in the ’90s but it was “very small and it did not persist.”
Little added that students who live in the complex likely will become more involved in sports, activities and other on-campus programs.
“That shift in engagement is important to the campus,” Little said.
The units are marketed to university students and will feature space leased by the university for student life events and activities. The complex will have student gathering spaces, meeting rooms, group study spaces and a theater.
Ford Motor Land Development Corp. Chairwoman and CEO Donna Inch said the real estate company is proud to take part of the effort and to see the buildings being reused to serve the community and student body.
“We were very interested in the proposal to develop student housing,” Inch said. “(It is) a good use of property and it fit very well in what we think is the vision of the area to have places for people to work, shop, live and have entertainment and things in Dearborn.”
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said the endeavor is an exciting development for Dearborn.
“We are thrilled that U of M-Dearborn students soon (can) call Dearborn home throughout the year,” O’Reilly said. “We look forward to welcoming them to our community.”
For more information on the Union go to www.unionatdearborn.com.