The Woods build community from scratch

Lindsey+Eaton

Lindsey Eaton

Von Lanier

Editors Note: This is the second part of a two-part story exploring the public/private partnership (P3) between EdR Collegiate Housing and Northern Michigan University.

The arrival of the Woods to NMU is making waves on a national level, but the $75.4 million project is only one-third of the way through completion, making it the biggest construction project since NMU was founded in 1899.

In an effort to promote a living environment that merges well with a learning environment, NMU entered a P3 with EdR. In the partnership, NMU will own the buildings but the community will be managed by EdR. Community management includes, but is not limited to, operational functions and maintenance of the facility. EdR is leasing the project sites to NMU as well as funding construction through it’s ONE Plan program. The program entails EdR essentially paying for the construction costs and management of the buildings with it’s substantial equity to offset costs for the university.

Lindsey Eaton
Lindsey Eaton

“The process of developing a community takes time and it takes more than three days to establish a community,” Korpi said. “In fact, when you look at the cultures and traditions in our other communities across campus, some of those communities have been established for 50 years, and it’s unrealistic to think that a community can establish itself in just a few days. There’s a process to it—it’s an intentional process and it takes time, and I’m confident that the communities that are going to be developed in The Woods are going to be just as vibrant as our other communities that we’re so proud of across campus.”

Korpi said that the Housing and Residence Life department is establishing the living-learning community in The Woods by using an outlying process based mostly in theory. That process is used to involve more student leaders that can help to determine what individual house needs are. He noted that the integration of NMU Residence Life staff and EdR’s community management team is rather seamless in the day-to-day activities of new dorms.

Korpi also said the major difference between the new dorms and older units, besides newer amenities, is that they have more community space available for out-of-room activities. This expansion is meant to prevent any discomfort by students who don’t care for the automatic-closing doors, which are required by local fire codes.

Korpi said Birch Hall West and Cedar Hall West have already chosen their house presidents and both houses are currently determining a desired name.