|There’s nothing better than finding that point where your vocation crosses over into your avocation. In my case, that intersection is in mountain biking. I have the credit card bills to prove that where there is a trail to ride, there’s apparel, new tech gear and, of course, bikes to be bought — which in the lexicon of city government means jobs, and jobs mean tax dollars. My goal is to find that entrepreneur who’s ready to take advantage of the Kent market and I actually always make sure that I carry my business card whenever I hit the trails. I’ve had a couple of good leads come that way. I can’t wait for the day when we’ve got Kent trails to ride and a Kent bike store to empty my pockets in, and to help prove my point, I found two recent articles that have put bike stores on campus because they’re such hit with students (not to mention 42 year old city managers…)
Posted on Tue, May. 29, 2007
New UA residence hall nearing completion East Exchange Street building will have all comforts of home when it opens for fall semester
By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer
Ross Johnson of Dover had heard the talk.
Cable and Internet access.
A volleyball court.
So Johnson, a University of Akron senior majoring in accounting, knew exactly where he wanted to live come fall — the Exchange Street Residence Hall on the south side of campus.
“I haven’t had a chance to get a tour yet, but it sounds awesome,” he said.
UA’s newest building is 95 percent complete and timed to be ready for — or even ahead of — the start of fall semester in August.
It is the university’s newest residence hall since the popular honors dorm opened three years ago.
John Messina, UA’s director of residence life and housing, said via e-mail the honors dorm has filled every year since it opened. The hall is specifically for students with high grades in the selective honors program.
So it was no surprise that UA got more applications than it could handle for the $33 million, brick-and-stone hall on Exchange Street.
The 88 two- and four-bedroom apartments were especially popular. While the apartments are smaller than commercial ones off campus, they include furniture and appliances. All utilities are included in the cost. Twenty-four students were turned away for this fall and placed in other housing.
The dorm also offers 134 “shared singles,” or two single rooms that share one bathroom, plus eight single rooms with individual bathrooms for hall staff.
Then there’s a computer lab, study lounges and retail stores on the ground floor that include Dairy Queen, Eddy’s Bike Shop and the university-owned and-operated Exchange Street Pier, which will offer curtains, comforters and the like to finish off the rooms.
The university is banking on the trend that parents want their offspring to have the best, even if it does cost a tad more — $7,176 a year for an apartment (that’s about $700 a month, per student) or $6,868 for a shared suite.
Ted Curtis, UA’s vice president for capital planning and facilities management, said that means privacy in modern buildings with amenities and extra security measures to soothe anxious parents. At Exchange Street, for example, the university can lock down the dorm to prevent anyone from entering in a crisis, although students still could exit.
In fact, modern and safe residence halls are a key to attracting students, said Alma Sealine, director of housing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the Central District representative to the Association of College and University Housing Officers.
With academics and financial aid, “it does become a factor,” she said. “If you can live at a fresh, new residence hall at one campus and an old one at another campus, it may sway the decision, especially in an urban area.”
Largest residence hall
At UA, the Exchange Street dorm might be the most inviting of the 15 dorms on campus.
At 195,000 square feet, it will be the largest residence hall at UA, its five stories looming over East Exchange Street, an open archway leading to picnic tables, gardens, a volleyball court and parking lot.
The suites will include stackable washers and dryers, individual bedrooms for each student, cable TV hookups, all kitchen appliances — including a microwave and dishwasher, and high-speed Internet access. Small living rooms will include a sofa, chair and coffee table, plus floor-to-ceiling windows in some units that on higher floors offer expansive views of the city.
The shared-single rooms will include single bedrooms for two students, a shared bathroom and a shared entryway that’s big enough to accommodate a couch, storage or bicycles.
The interior designer for the project, Julia Schumacher of Bath Township, tried not to jam too much into the rooms. She selected furniture that can be moved around including wardrobes — not built-in closets — for maximum flexibility.
She also enlisted students’ opinions in mapping out color schemes. Bold shades of salmon, aqua, deep burgundy or gold splash one wall in the living room of each suite and are teamed with softer shades of sand and off-white elsewhere.
Kitchen is a plus
For Cassandra Dohar of Canfield, a key attraction was the kitchen. The sophomore political science major doesn’t cook, but wants to learn so she can steer away from the fried foods that dominate so many students’ diets.
“There’s a lot more there than what the other dorms have to offer,” Dohar said.
As for Johnson, the accounting major from Dover, he has been hearing all of this for more than a year as a student assistant for Messina, the housing director.
Johnson and friend Chris Burke, a senior majoring in electrical engineering technology from Brunswick, already have selected their unit — a fifth-floor apartment on Exchange Street with expansive views of campus.
“It’s more of an adult space,” Burke said. “It’s going to be better than living in a regular residence and sharing a room and using a community bathroom.”
Two years ago, convinced that quadlings had to walk too far for late night munchies and other sundry items, the College opened up a convenience store in the basement of N-entryway.
Now, driven by a desire to win converts to what he sees as a more efficient and healthy mode of transportation, one quad resident is adding a full-service bike shop just across the courtyard.
Founder Timothy D. Ledlie ’02, an aide to Masters Janice and James H. Ware, opened up temporary shop in April after his 17-page proposal for an I-entry bike store was approved by the College Business Committee.
When students begin trickling back to Cambridge in August, they will find the aptly named “Quad Bikes” shop expanded to its full line of services, which will include repairs, tool rental and sales of refurbished bikes and accessories, Ledlie said.
Ledlie pledges to have all the services provided by a professional bicycle shop but with a student-friendly atmosphere and budget.
The shop will be the fruit of extensive research and significant past experience—which began when he was “quadded” after his first year.
Like many quad residents, Ledlie bought a bike, and fell in love. He first thought of opening the store this fall, given the free time offered by his Master’s aide position.
That thought culminated in his proposal, a detailed business plan replete with prospective contracts and potential liabilities.
According to the proposal, Ledlie has already lined up a contract for the maintenance of Harvard University Police Department’s bicycle fleet, and has met with other bike entrepreneurs—including former Harvard Student Agencies General Manager and former owner of the Bike Exchange Richard Olken—to learn the business.
He secured the Wares’ permission to use the basement space, and looked into acquiring discarded bicycles turned in by House superintendents each year.
He even went as far as to contact University officials in charge of planning for a future campus across the river in Allston, but has yet to hear back.
According to Ledlie, he overcame the biggest obstacle to University approval—liability worries—by securing a comprehensive insurance policy.
The former Computer Science concentrator has become so involved with bike culture that he is said he is now considering a career in bicycle advocacy—with the vision of having the United States resemble European countries in bicycle usage.
“People should bike more, society would benefit greatly,” Ledlie said, citing the health, environmental and parking benefits for communities who depend on bicycles.
Ledlie said he would like to see more students, employees and professors using bikes to get around.
A goal of Quad Bikes will also be to teach the Harvard community bike basics in order to avoid small problems that lead to bike disposal.
“Since they don’t understand the bikes, they treat them as toys and don’t use them to their potential,” Ledlie said.
He also said he wants to engage students as employees at the all student-run shop.
Ledlie said he hopes to attract people to apply for jobs with Quad Bikes both for the convenience of being on-campus and for the competitive pay that Quad Bikes hopes to offer.
For now, it is only Ledlie and Juan C. Agudelo ’03.
The pair said they hope to expand and have heard from several people who have visited their website (www.quadbikes.org) inquiring about services and employment opportunities.
A publicity campaign kicked into gear last week with a campus-wide e-mail to House open lists. Plans are also under way for a grand opening in Cabot this fall.
“We hope to have a barbecue, tune bikes, sell accessories, and maybe have people biking around the Quad,” Agudelo said.
Cabot House Master James H. Ware was an early convert.
“Quad Bikes is pretty spiffy,” Ware gushed.
“I hope this becomes a trend and the College takes advantage of the space available in the Quad,” Ware said. “We’d like to see more academic and cultural activities.”
“I am very impressed with all that [Leidle] and [Agudelo] have put in,” Ware said.
Quadling and bike rider Nancy S. Garland ’03 recently brought in her bike to Leidle and said that having a bike shop will help the Quad become a self-contained community.
“Quad Bikes is convenient and accessible, and it is not intimidating because they are our peers,” Garland said. “It’s really great that students are working in the shop.”
—Staff writer Maria S. Pedroza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.