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Complex gives UMW students a choice

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Eagle Landing, the housing complex owned by the University of Mary Washington Foundation, is entering its third year of providing housing for students.

Instead of taking a lot of business away from area apartment and housing complexes, though, Eagle Landing’s opening is mainly giving UMW options for on-campus housing while traditional residence halls receive a facelift.

The complex, located just across U.S. 1 from the campus, is not the only thing booming. Eagle Village, the retail section of the development, is also seeing strong business.

Jeff Rountree, the chief executive officer of the UMW Foundation, which owns Eagle Village and Eagle Landing, said he thinks the entire development has been a “smash hit.”

Chris Porter, director of residence life and commuter student services, is responsible for helping UMW students who live off campus feel more included in the on-campus community.

She said the university requires freshmen and sophomores to live on-campus and guarantees housing spots on-campus to any juniors or seniors who want them.

UMW owns two apartment-style residence halls that aren’t technically on-campus: Eagle Landing, and UMW Apartments, formerly known as Marye’s Heights.

Porter said many sophomores choose to live in Eagle Landing, where the room arrangements are more like suites. She said mainly juniors and seniors choose to live at UMW Apartments, which are traditional apartment buildings.

At many larger universities like Virginia Tech or James Madison University, freshmen are required to live 0n-campus and have the option to move off-campus during their final three years of school.

Moving off-campus can become a necessity at schools like Tech, where there are about 9,000 on-campus housing spots and about 23,000 undergraduate students each year.

That’s not the case at UMW.

Porter said there are about 3,000 on-campus housing spots. This year, according to UMW’s admissions website, there are 4,464 undergraduates.

Upperclassmen are encouraged not to move off-campus partially because having them on campus gives “a more collegiate feel to the campus,” Porter said, “not just first-year students living here.”

Porter said upperclassmen “migrate” to the UMW Apartments. The school acquired UMW Apartments in 1999.

About 340 people can live there while about 620 can live at Eagle Landing, Porter said.

Drema Khraibani, the president of the Commuter Student Association at UMW and a senior, said that while there are varying reasons for students to choose to live off-campus, she thinks commuter students still have an economic impact on the Fredericksburg area.

Khraibani has been a commuter student since the beginning of her freshman year. She lived at home with her family in Fairfax for the first three years. Her family recently moved to Dumfries.

Khraibani said between buying gas, eating out instead of at an on-campus dining hall and shopping in Central Park, she thinks she spends more money in Fredericksburg than she would have if she’d lived on campus.

“If I had lived on campus, I wouldn’t have used a car as much. Maybe I wouldn’t even have had a car,” she said.

“I’ve had the ability to move around. I know I put money into the Fredericksburg economic system.”

Khraibani said she enjoys living with her family, but she knows friends who like the UMW Apartments, too.

“The apartments are a great area, many of my friends are loving it. It’s kind of helping lead up to real life if they can’t or don’t want to live on their own yet,” she said.

But she said she thinks the Eagle Landing suites are too costly for some.

“Some on-campus students would love to live there,” she said.

Rountree said the retail portion of the development was going also experiencing success.

He said 94 percent of the 36,000-square-foot Executive Offices at Eagle Village are leased, while 88 percent of Eagle Village retail space is occupied by leasers.

“We wanted to attract tenants that would be attractive to the community as well as students,” Rountree said. “That’s going along well.”

He said the newest addition to the shopping center would be a 93-room, 66,000-square-foot Hyatt Hotel, which is expected to be completed in 13 to 14 months.

“They’re doing well and coming on strong,” he said.

Rountree said he feels it is positive that no businesses in Eagle Village have gone out of business in the past three years.

“Overall, the occupancy rate is very high,” Rountree said. “The new businesses have been well-received and there’s a lot going on here.”

Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444