Downtown living is perfect for students

November 12 – NEW LONDON – Connecticut College students had no idea what their apartments in the newly restored Manwaring Building would look like when they applied.

But they tried their luck.

The students have now been living there for more than two months, inviting friends over for dinner, learning about downtown life and enjoying their spacious, modern and historic apartments.

Hannah Foley, of Arlington, Va., said the college announced the possibility of living in new downtown apartments after leaving campus last year. Foley said she and her roommate, Katarina Reyna, from Miami, Florida, were willing to live in single dorms next to each other.

The two seniors entered the lotto for the apartments at the end of May but were placed on the waiting list. A few days later, they learned that a unit was available.

“I definitely feel very lucky,” she said. “It’s a beautiful living arrangement.”

Their third-floor apartment consists of a fully-equipped kitchen, high ceilings, a common bedroom with separate closet, washer and dryer, main living area, bathroom, and dining area. meal.

Foley said the apartment’s amenities allowed them to have “a real adult life”.

Reyna said it was a big difference from living on campus and she liked having a dedicated workspace on the kitchen counter or dining table.

In May, the college‘s board of trustees approved a partnership with High Tide Capital to lease most of the three-story Manwaring Building, a historic century-old commercial building located at 223-229 State St. The 21-unit complex, in renovation course, was to accommodate 60 students and help alleviate the lack of space on campus.

It was the first time Connecticut College students had been offered to live off-campus and in downtown dormitories. College and city officials have expressed excitement for students to develop a deeper connection to the city and strengthen downtown businesses.

Construction continued throughout the summer, and most apartments were ready by the time the students returned for the fall. Construction continued for another week to complete the first floor townhouses. Unlike the two-person apartments, the four-person townhouses have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, interior staircases with skylights and an office space.

Sam Maidenberg, a native of Orange, NJ, said he knew he wanted to live in an apartment-style living space for his senior year. He had spent the past three years in dormitories with shared amenities.

Maidenberg said the students had no idea what the Manwaring Building would look like, but in hindsight it would have been his first choice. He said the rooms, the kitchen and the location offered a new opportunity.

Maidenberg said he and his roommate love to cook and have never had their own kitchen on campus. Now they have canceled their on-campus meal plans.

“I love it so much that I try to rely on it as much as possible,” he said.

Maidenberg said students have long wanted more apartment-style dorms. He said existing apartment-style dorms on campus are limited due to high demand, adding that they are old and lack fully functional kitchens.

“As a top performing liberal arts college, that hasn’t been reflected in housing,” he said.

Maidenberg said that although the college moved downtown to accommodate the influx of a large incoming class, he’s glad the school is finally doing something about these issues.

Students discover the city center

Living in downtown New London has given many students access to the city like never before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students said they were encouraged not to leave campus.

“Because a lot of my time in Conn was during COVID and I didn’t go into town, I didn’t do a ton of exploring,” Foley said.

Foley’s apartment has a large window overlooking State Street and she can walk to the waterfront pier, Muddy Waters or Jake’s Diner down the street. Although there were occasional seagulls and noisy motorbikes, Foley said it was a blessing for the most part.

Reyna said she was almost never downtown before moving there. She said it was nice to open the window and look down at the recent We are New London parade.

In her experience and discussions with others, Maidenberg said New London feels disconnected from campus, especially for students without cars. Although he was busy with football season, Maidenberg said he went to the Washington Street Coffee House and took a walk, on a nice day, on the waterfront pier.

Business owners say they notice the students.

Misha Sherman, owner of the Washington Street Coffee House – known to locals as “The Wash” – said that while there was always a presence of Connecticut College students on the weekends, she noticed more daily traffic.

Sherman said it was amazing and the biggest change in downtown since she started the business 10 years ago.

Jake’s Diner manager Nikole Johnson said she noticed more students at the restaurant and parents were coming to buy them gift cards.

Johnson said it gets busy on the weekends and she sees students coming not just with their parents, but also with friends and in groups. She said she hoped business would get better and better.

City economic development and planning director Felix Reyes said it was still too early to point to definitive trends.

“What we’ve seen is a group of students who have integrated and can be seen studying in our cafes, eating in our restaurants and participating in cultural events,” Reyes said.

He said it was heartening to see and city officials hope it will become the new normal in the heart of the central business district.

Transportation Challenges

Being off-campus has presented a challenge with transportation for students without cars, but they are finding ways to make it work.

Chemistry student Reyna said she was anxious at first without a car, as she has early lessons. But Reyna said she takes the public bus outside Union Station – a six-minute drive away – on days when her roommate can’t drive her.

Also in a two-person apartment, Nicolette Scola, of Braintree, Massachusetts, said she sometimes had trouble getting around, but often had her friends drive her around or drove a roommate’s car.

Scola, a junior, said she loved having a living space to hang out with friends and experience more of the city. She said she had been to local businesses like ‘The Wash’ and Muddy Waters, adding that the city offered a prospect of a possible future with city living.

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