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November 2, 2013

Growing Salem State eyes new residence hall

SALEM — Salem State University will begin preliminary utility work next week on a 400-student, five-story residence hall it plans to build on its central campus along Loring Avenue — and the proposal has some neighbors up in arms.

The proposed new dorm, set to open in the fall of 2015, has sparked concerns for its size, proximity to nearby houses and speed at which the project appears to be moving.

The new dorm would be the third residence hall built on the central campus in the past decade. Atlantic Hall, with 450 beds, opened in 2004, and 525-bed Marsh Hall opened in 2009, as the growing school — which draws many students from Gloucester and around Cape Ann — became, like other state schools, a full-fledged university.

A college spokeswoman stressed that plans are not final.

“There were some concerns expressed by neighbors, and I think those concerns were definitely heard,” said Karen Cady. “What the architects are currently doing is reviewing the various options to see what accommodations can be made to address those concerns.”

The college’s architects will present new, and possibly modified, plans at a Nov. 19 meeting of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee.

Making both sections of the new dorm four stories would be a “real plus,” according to Jim Rose, who chairs meetings of the South Salem Neighborhood Association. Under the current plan, the dorm has two sections connected by walkways, one four stories and the other five.

Although the plans may not be final, a tentative timeline has been established. Cady said they hope to have construction trailers on the site by the end of February. The new residence hall is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015, she said.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said she is aware of the concerns and has spoken to Salem State President Patricia Meservey.

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