USM Portland expected to lease apartments for student housing

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PORTLAND — Students at the University of Southern Maine will likely be able to call Marginal Way a temporary home beginning next fall.

USM’s board of trustees is scheduled to vote on a plan to lease 200 beds at the Bayside Village apartment complex at its Nov. 14 meeting. The board’s Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee approved the measure Nov. 2.

The lease would be with Blue Vista Capital Management, owners of the building at 132 Marginal Way, for two years, with an option for three, one-year extensions. The arrangement is seen as a temporary measure while USM continues to explore building dormitories in the city.

At an event organized by the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce last month, USM President Glenn Cummings spoke about the university developing a master plan for the Portland campus that included dormitories. USM’s board of trustees will begin considering the master plan for the Portland campus in the coming months.

According to the committee’s meeting documents, the total cost of the lease, with all options included, would be nearly $9.6 million, all of which would be covered by per-bed fees. 

In a press release last week, Cummings said residence halls on USM’s Gorham campus are over capacity. He also said given the rising costs of rent in the city and increased enrollment, it is “essential” to offer lower-cost housing to students. The university estimates that students pay 30 percent less for university housing than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland.

“This is a critically important step to meeting student needs,” Cummings said in the release.

Bayside Village apartments are listed as four-bedroom, two-bathroom units with a kitchen and a living room. The units are all fully furnished, and USM students would be housed together on two, designated floors.

Rent is listed at $625 per bed on the company’s website. Student rent is listed at $750 in the committee document, but also includes campus services.

Nancy Griffin, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, said in the press release that the students would receive comparable services, programming, support and security as provided to students in Gorham residence halls, and receive free bus transportation between their housing and the campus. 

She said beyond what is offered typically in a Bayside unit, USM students will have around-the-clock USM security and resident assistants living in the building, too.

“We know that to build community on our Portland campus and increase student success, we are going to need residence halls right on our campus,” Cummings said. “The Bayside Apartments are a wonderful solution to an immediate need and will provide a smooth transition to where we want to go.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Pending a vote by the USM Board of Trustees on Nov. 14, the school will lease 200 beds at the Bayside Apartments on Marginal Way in Portland as temporary student housing.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.