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As rents rise in the neighborhood around Brown and fears about crime persist, more seniors than usual are opting to live in dorms this fall. According to Thomas Forsberg, associate director of residential life, the Univer-sity discovered something was up in the spring, when around 250 fewer seniors than usual applied for permission to move off campus.
The problem for Brown is where to find space for all these students. The Office of Residential Life put extra beds into large singles and doubles and allowed more undergraduates to move off campus. But all that was still not enough. After considering hotel rooms and trailers, Forsberg says, the University found a solution in Minden Hall, an eight-story building at Waterman and Brook streets that Brown had been leasing to Johnson & Wales University. Brown has owned the Minden, which was constructed in 1912, for four years.
Over the summer, workers repaired ceilings, replaced the roof, and added wiring for Brown cable, phone, and Internet connections, says Edward Milch, who managed the overhaul. The result is a mix of singles, doubles, triples, and quadruples, most with full bathrooms. After workers concluded the project with fresh paint, new furniture, and 145 beds, officials opened Minden Hall in the fall.
As of now, there are no long-term plans for the building, but facilities director Michael McCormick says that unless more significant repairs are made, it won't be a permanent dorm. The electrical distribution, heating, and plumbing systems are "nearing the end of their life expectancy," he says. "We didn't do the kind of renovation that would say we're going to use it forever."
Brown guarantees housing to all undergraduates. This year around 950 seniors chose to live off campus, Forsberg says, compared to an estimated 1,150 to 1,200 in previous years. Adding to the housing crunch was the freshman class, which was expected to number 1,467 this year, compared to 1,381 last year.