Transforming Holiday Inn to Yorktown Hall

When Robert Morris University purchased the Holiday Inn last fall, a total reconstruction began to make it into an efficient dorm building for students. Dorm furniture was moved in, a shuttle was chartered and renovations began on the new residence hall, Yorktown.   Over the summer and into the new semester, all of these projects were kicked into high gear to make sure Yorktown was ready for the 2012 fall semester.

SCHEDULED IMPROVEMENTS

BY PATRICK RYAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR

Entering its third year serving as auxiliary dorms for Robert Morris University students, the Holiday Inn on University Blvd. is currently undergoing a major facelift of sorts, adding various accommodations and renaming it Yorktown Hall.   The 11-story hotel purchased three years ago for upwards of $10.15 million at a sheriff’s sale, will be home to 500 or more students with floors two and three still catering to the needs of everyday out-of-towners for the time being.

The Landau Building Company will be implementing an array of laundry facilities for residents on the first floor as well as making the swimming area more easily accessible.   “The first phase of the renovations is to make the hotel as comfortable as possible to students living there,” stated RMU’s Director of Planning and Design, Bill Joyce.

“We converted two of the rooms in the main hallway on the first floor into strictly a laundry area,” Joyce added. “I don’t know if [Landau] has installed the machines yet or not though.”

In addition to the upgraded laundry facilities, Joyce said student lounges and study areas are also going to be constructed on some of the floors in the near future.

For added safety and general protection of the welfare of residents, Joyce explained that Landau is currently erecting a set of doors right outside the elevator on each floor that students will be required to swipe a freedom card to gain access to the hallways.

“It makes sense to me,” Joyce said, regarding the possibility of making freedom cards more universal throughout the building.   As it stands right now, students need a separate, traditional hotel room key to gain access into their own personal rooms.

STUDENT CONCERNS

BY TIFFANY BRANDON, CONTRIBUTOR

A number of student residents currently living at the Holiday Inn have had a variety of concerns since they stepped foot in their rooms on move-in day.

One of the most prevalent issues that many Robert Morris University students have noticed is the poor lighting within the dorms. Each room includes only one floor lamp, a small light mounted in the doorway and a ceiling light in the bathroom.

Joyce was unaware of the lighting issue until it was brought to his attention by “The Sentry” staff. However, he plans to bring it to the attention of those in charge of the renovations.

Another issue that has caused concerns for some students is the limited number of washers and dryers used for laundry purposes.

Currently, only three washers and dryers are spread throughout the 11 floors. However, Joyce noted that two laundry rooms are currently being constructed on the first floor of the Holiday Inn, but may not be finished by the start of classes.

Not only are there issues with laundry appliances, but also with the ice machines and vending machines, which are  missing from certain floors, making the use of them very inconvenient for RMU students.

Many new improvements are being added to make life easier and safer for the students. Doorways are being constructed with swipe card access on every floor after exiting the elevators.

“[This is] A safety feature that will be very beneficial to RMU students,” says Joyce. “Handicap accessible rooms are also being added to various floors for those in need of easier accessibility.”

In addition to these improvements, the contractors are planning on installing a canopy to protect students from harsh weather while waiting for the shuttle, placing a sign in front of the Holiday Inn to identify it as Yorktown Hall and possibly combining the students’ access cards and freedom cards into one card for their convenience.

SHUTTLE/TRANSPORTATION

BY PAUL WINTRUBA, CONTRIBUTOR

Among the many improvements and concerns surrounding Yorktown is the shuttle situation. The shuttle schedule for Yorktown and Braddock Hall, which is located behind the Giant Eagle across from campus, has undergone a total reconstruction.

First and foremost, shuttles now run from Yorktown Hall to the gazebo on campus then to Braddock Hall before returning to Yorktown, which is a complete reversal of last year’s route.

Secondly, the main RMU shuttle will be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all three stops. In addition to this change, two new busses, the RMU Flyer and the Yorktown express, have also been added to the schedule.

The RMU flyer runs to all stops from 7:10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays with later starts on Saturday and Sunday. The Yorktown express runs a direct route from Yorktown Hall to the gazebo on campus from 7:03 a.m. to 11:56 p.m. on weekdays.

Assistant Director of Business Operations Beth Baic explained that members of the Office of Business Operations carefully constructed the routes and times for the new schedule.

“The current schedules were designed based on compiled data from the drivers on when students most frequently ride the shuttles and how many of them do so,” she stated. “With this information they were able to alter the schedule to make it most convenient for the students.”

More changes are likely to occur but nothing is definite yet. “It’s an evolving schedule,” Baic said. “Nothing is going to change until they see the effectiveness of the new plan.”