Lehigh’s rival Lafayette College has undertaken its own expansion projects similar to the Path to Prominence in the interest of benefiting students and faculty in the future.
The plan, expected to be completed in 2027, includes the building of a new housing project and science center.
“This is an eight-year plan to grow the size of the student body, in part to provide additional revenue that we can allocate to financial aid so that we can admit more students without regard for their financial need,” said Mark Eyerly, the vice president of communications at Lafayette.
A new housing project is planned to be built along McCartney Street, directly across from Lafayette College.
Eyerly said in the past few weeks, 11 structures, which were mainly old homes, have been torn down. He said they are now cleaning the land and prepping it for the construction of the new building.
Carl Manges, the chief planner of Easton, said Lafayette had to make arrangements with some community members to relocate one of these historic houses, in which they complied.
Because the development is right across from the college, the district it is located in is considered a transitional zone. Manges said it was there for Lafayette’s educational uses and other projects the college wanted to do in the future.
This construction is projected to start in May 2019, and the building is scheduled to open fall 2020.
The building will be four stories tall — the upper three stories will be reserved for student residences and the ground floor will be a retail space for a bookstore and a diner.
The old bookstore will be relocated from Lafayette’s Student Union building into the new facility’s ground floor, freeing up more room in the Student Union for other activities. The diner will be open to the entire surrounding community.
To add to Lafayette’s laboratory and classroom space, Eyerly said the new Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center is also being built, which will open in fall 2019.
Throughout the process, however, Lafayette has hit a few bumps in the road.
“When (Lafayette) first submitted their application for their land development, they had to go through some hurdles,” Manges said. “A lot of it didn’t meet the current zoning (regulations) in that zoning district.”
The city proposed zoning amendments to the application, which were then approved by the city council. When Lafayette came back with their development plans, the university received approval from the planning commissions.
Recently, students and community members voiced concerns about how the housing project and the increased student-body size will affect parking.
Once the construction is over, Eyerly said he believes there will be more students living in college housing and parking on campus, rather than in the neighborhood. The students who will be residing within the new building have been assigned on campus.
Manges said the housing project is only in phase one of two.
“They’re planning on doing another building similar to this one, but I am assuming they are just going to wait until they begin building this one before even starting the other,” Manges said.
Lafayette’s new housing comes at the same time as the construction of SouthSide Commons at Lehigh, which is the new residence hall set to open in fall 2019. It will be built across from Mohler Lab and Broughal Middle School.
At Lehigh, Lori Friedman, the director of media relations at Lehigh University, said in an email that other projects underway at the university are Phase I of the residential houses at Bridge West, which will provide housing for juniors and seniors, the renovation and re-imaging of the University Center and the construction of the Health, Science and Technology building, planned to open in fall 2021.
“The hope is to foster an environment that unifies our community, strengthens our traditions and creates an atmosphere of connections, collaboration and leadership,” Friedman said in an email.