Brigham Young University has announced plans to raze two of the buildings in the Deseret Towers housing complex on campus. Out of the seven residence halls in the complex, two of the buildings will be unoccupied in September. Although a company has not yet been selected to carry out the demolition of these two buildings, the university intends to move forward in a timely manner. The remaining five buildings will serve students throughout the 2006-2007 school year and eventually will be razed. Students in those buildings will not be affected by the current demolition.
In September 2005, BYU announced that it would be taking Deseret Towers out of service. The university said the buildings likely would be vacated over a two-year period beginning fall 2006. At that time, the university also announced the creation of two pilot programs: the opening of some Wyview apartments to single students and the beginning of chartered housing, an arrangement where a private property owner works closely with the university to provide quality housing.
Facing a growing vacancy rate and aging mechanical systems at Deseret Towers, the university said it needed to closely study its housing options, particularly the need for more on-campus, apartment-style living. “Although we will need more time to study this issue, we are seeing a trend that students are requesting more apartment-style living versus the traditional room-and-board,” said Julie Franklin, director of Residence Life at BYU.
The university has not announced any plans to replace Deseret Towers. “As we have been saying, before we complete our master housing plan we want to further study the desires and needs of our students,” said Franklin.
The first five buildings of Deseret Towers were constructed in 1964. Additional buildings were added in 1969 and 1978. Each building has seven floors and a basement and can house up to 264 students.
Over time the residence halls’ maintenance costs have steadily increased to the point it is no longer prudent to operate them, said Brian Evans, administrative vice president and chief financial officer at BYU.
The buildings also are not equipped to handle the needs of today’s students, he said. “For instance, unlike in 1964 when students came with a radio alarm clock, students now come with computers, MP3 players, hair dryers, curling irons and more. There are simply not enough outlets to handle their needs.”