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College town goal discussed

Karen Langley | Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In a few years, Notre Dame might be known not just as a university famous for its athletics, academics and Catholicism, but also as one with a great college town.

At least that’s what student leaders suggested as they brainstormed ideas for the University’s plan to construct a new development with a college-town atmosphere south of campus at Monday’s Council of Representatives meeting.

Construction could start across Angela Boulevard as early as this summer, though students will not see full development for another two to three years, student body vice president Lizzi Shappell said.

Student government intends to participate in the project by helping to conduct market research to determine what types of eateries, retail establishments and other venues should be present in an off-campus center.

“[We want to know] what would make [the] whole area viable for students and community members,” student body president Dave Baron said.

Shappell said while the University owns the land in question, the developer – who will receive the data collected by student government – is in charge of choosing how to use the property.

The market research will focus on topics such as the types of stores students frequent and their current shopping habits.

“For example, if students shop at J. Crew online, will they stop and shop at a J. Crew store if it opens south of campus?” Shappell said.

Shappell shared some suggestions about establishments in the development and inquired about representatives’ thoughts.

“We want something neighborhood-focused, like a sports bar, retail clothing shops, restaurants and coffee shops,” Shappell said. “We want to open it up for suggestions.”

Club Coordination Council President Beth O’Shaughnessy asked about the intended atmosphere of the future development.

“Would it be something quaint, with coffee shops and little stores, or big-name stores?” O’Shaughnessy said.

Since the development will not be completed for a few years, sophomore class president Erin Mulholland said the process of gathering student opinions should focus on current freshmen and sophomores.

“I think it’s important to include in focus groups younger students who would be around when changes are made,” Mulholland said.

Keough senator Rob Lindley, Jr. noted that a nearby development could increase already-growing student use of Transpo, the local public transportation system.

“The relationship we’ve built with Transpo, that’s something we have to take advantage of,” Lindley said. “Now if you have an attraction like college town as somewhere to go, that’s even more of an incentive to use it.”

Baron noted that before the Transpo agreement, Notre Dame students made up two percent of total Transpo riders in the city. Now, they comprise five percent of riders.

Shappell said student research will continue with focus groups and both qualitative and quantitative web-based research.