FAMU housing gearing up for change

Empty lot where building Palmetto North Building 158 once stood.
Photo Submitted by Constance Smith.

Florida A&M University Housing is projected to have a new look by the fall semester of 2020.

Palmetto North buildings 156 and 158 were torn down at the start of the year, and Jennifer Wilder, the director of FAMU housing, explained why.

“Building 158 required substantially more work than the other buildings when renovation work was done in 2017 and never reopened,” Wilder said. “Building 156 was hit by a car during the summer of 2018 and received structural damage. Plans were made and executed to demolish both buildings at the same time.”

Now sits two empty lots where the buildings once stood. Mia Wilburn, a current resident assistant for FAMU housing, shared her reaction to the demolished buildings.

“I knew they were going to tear them down, but I didn’t know it would be that fast,” Wilburn said. “Both of the buildings were down in about a week.”

Palmetto North is still open and currently housing students. The remaining Palmetto North buildings are scheduled to be demolished after the opening of a new residence hall in the fall of 2020. Wilder said there currently are no definite plans for Palmetto North after the full demolition but that it will not be the only resident hall demolished.

“The new building will provide replacement beds for Palmetto North, Paddyfote and Truth halls, which are slated to be demolished after the new building opens,” Wilder said.

The new dormitory will not only replace the beds  for the buildings that are torn down, but also provide 200 additional beds. For the construction process of the new residence hall, FAMU Housing is planning to take input from residents to see what they want.

“There will be opportunities for student input for selecting the furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new residence hall,” Wilder said.

FAMU Housing is now focusing on making renovations in residence halls that are still standing. The halls included in renovations are Palmetto South, Gibbs Hall, Paddyfote, Phase 3 and FAMU Village.

FAMU Housing is planning to replace some roofs and overall plumbing in some Palmetto South buildings. Gibbs and Paddyfote are on the list to have renovated bathrooms and changes in their HVAC systems. Residence halls, Truth and Phase 3 are expected to have updated plumbing and FAMU Village is expected to have repairs on roof damage caused by previous hurricanes.

Although there is a lot of focus on physical renovations, there will also be changes made internally.

Michele Beverly, a FAMU Housing employee who has been working on campus for 6 years said, “I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Since I started working at FAMU, a lot has changed in housing.”

Wilder said students can expect to see all of these changes in the near future. Along with renovations there will also be collaboration with the FAMU Foundation for a tiered fundraising campaign, an increased social media presence, and more participation in the housing led organization Residence Hall Association.

For students interested in living on campus, they can visit the housing website at http://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?housing.