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Students will receive College Town survey

Emma Driscoll | Thursday, April 27, 2006

Students tired of trying to access off-campus restaurants without a car and frustrated by the high prices of toiletries at the Huddle may soon find solutions within walking distance of their own dorm.

Notre Dame student body president Lizzi Shappell, former student body president Dave Baron, former Student Senate Committee on Residence Life chair Mark Seiler and senior business major Brett Hummel have teamed up to grant students the opportunity to share what they would like to see in the forthcoming College Town development. Hummel said the project could break ground as early as fall 2006.

After hearing about development projects taking place south of campus, the group brainstormed a means to gather student input about what they would like to see in the College Town so that the feedback could later be presented to developers.

Shappell, Baron, Seiler and Hummel met with marketing professor Tim Gilbride and produced the College Town survey that will be e-mailed to students this week. The anonymous survey takes about ten minutes to complete and will ask questions regarding preferences in clothing stores, clubs and bars, entertainment, coffee shops, grocery and drug stores and household and dorm supplies.

The group will present survey results first to Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves and Director of Asset Management and Real Estate Development Gregory P. Hakanen, and then to the project’s developer, who will be announced within a month. Hummel hopes results will also be released to the student body.

“The administration has been very supportive of helping us get what the students want,” he said. “Notre Dame won’t own any of the land, but [the University] will be talking to the developer to see what they want.”

Development will occur first on lands south of campus, between Angela Boulevard and Napoleon Boulevard. Hummel said there will be between ten and 15 stores going into this region.

This first commercial district will be part of several other areas around the University that will be or have already been refurbished, including the homes on Notre Dame Avenue that house many professors. Plans include areas that will ultimately become housing for young professionals as well, Hummel said.

“The whole idea behind [the development] was kind of to revitalize the entire neighborhood,” he said.

Four undergraduate focus groups held earlier this year at McGlinn Hall and Knott Hall demonstrated “a lot of interest in something competitive with the Huddle – more along the lines of a marketplace,” Hummel said. He also expects a “fusion of some fast food restaurants and some unique mom and pop cafés.”

“[The College Town will be] adding a whole other dimension – you won’t have to go to Reckers anymore,” Hummel said. “If you’re really lucky, you can go to Chipotle.”

Hummel anticipates the College Town will have a similar atmosphere to commercial districts at the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor – somewhere “you can hang around [and] kind of chill.” The stores will be along the sidewalk to create a “town square type of atmosphere,” he said.

“[The College Town] offers to a whole different market than Grape Road,” Hummel said.

Hummel said students who take the survey “don’t have to fit everything into a model” and can offer input about anything they would want to see around campus.

“The more people we get to do the survey, the more impressive it will be to the developer and the better chance we have of getting the stores we want,” he said.