By ANNE ELDER and HEATHER BRADY
Driving up College Avenue, many students were taken aback as they looked across Route 1, some viewing the completed Eagle Village buildings for the first time.
After many months of construction, the Office of Residence Life welcomed the first official residents of Eagle Landing this week.
As students walked around marveling at and exploring the newest addition to the university, many voiced their compliments.
“It definitely lived up to expectations,” sophomore Matt Willett said.
“…and more,” sophomore Alec Constantine echoed. “It’s much better than dorms; like a five-star hotel.”
Senior Erin Burke has been looking forward to Eagle Landing as soon as she found out about the opportunity for new student housing, with the reduced room and board rate of $5,950 being the selling point for her.
After living in dorms for the past three years, Burke was enthusiastic about living in a space where everything was brand-new.
“I was excited, but I was skeptical it wouldn’t be done,” Burke said. “It’s definitely a nice place to live.”
However, according to Director of Residence Life Chris Porter, there was never any fear that the construction would not be finished on time.
“Perhaps one of the best things about this project is that I never had any doubts that it would be ready,” Porter said. “The project manager was up-front about progress and when they fell behind, what they were doing to catch up. I had complete confidence they’d be finished when they indicated they would be.”
Jeff Rountree, CEO of the UMW Foundation, said that a prompt completion was one of the top priorities for the project.
“All of Eagle Village Phase I was ‘On Budget and On Time’,” Rountree said in an e-mail. “That was our saying from day one, and it was achieved.”
Rountree said that Eagle Village Phase I includes Eagle Landing, the apartments for students, the pedestrian bridge across Route 1, and the “Mixed Use Building” next to the apartment building.
The “Mixed Use Building” is currently home to a parking garage to fit 560 cars and will house 30,000 square feet of new retail space and 36,000 square feet of office space, according to Rountree.
“All total, we designed, permitted, constructed and opened nearly 500,000 square feet of space, on seven acres, in 496 days,” Rountree said.
Currently, businesses that are confirmed to be a part of Eagle Village are Blackstone at the Village, a coffee shop, Home Team Grill, a sit-down American cuisine restaurant, a new Quiznos, Salad Creations and Pancho Villa Express, a sit-down Mexican restaurant, according to the Eagle Village Web site.
Rountree said that the Web site, www.eaglevillage.com, will be updated as more businesses confirm their spots.
As the first residents move in, they are beginning to notice the first flaws that may have been overlooked while Eagle Landing was unoccupied.
“Any time you move into a new complex, there is a ‘shake down’ period where maintenance issues are discovered that were not found during building testing,” Porter said. “We have had a few issues such as clogged drains reported.”
Burke, who moved in Thursday morning, had some complaints about the aesthetics of the new building.
“I hope they put artwork on the walls,” Burke said.
Her mother, Rae Burke, agreed.
“The halls are very empty,” she said.
While moving in, the mother-daughter duo commented on the awkward shape of the bedrooms, noting that it didn’t seem as though the floor plan was created with the furniture in mind.
All of the bedrooms come with lofted beds, which students have the option to “de-loft”. If de-lofted, arranging furniture in the 15.6 feet by 11.6 feet rooms can create a puzzle for the residents.
Rae Burke also had some hesitations about the student responsibilities for the kitchen. Residence Life warned students that the granite countertops will stain easily and they recommended for each student to seal the surface to prevent stains.
“It’s kind of silly to think all students will seal their own granite countertops,” Rae Burke said.
In an e-mail and handout given to residents, the Office of Residence Life warned students regarding damages to the new apartments.
“This is a new facility and charges will reflect the cost needed to maintain this building at move-in quality,” the handout states. “Please be advised that this means that charges will be greater than what has been previously charged in other buildings.”
Despite the precautions, residents of Eagle Landing say they have a lot to look forward to.
“I think it’s lovely,” Rae Burke said. “It’s not a normal place for college students [to live].”
Residents of the Fredericksburg area who witnessed the construction and progress of Eagle Village were equally impressed.
Tracy Mahone, who has lived in the Fredericksburg area for almost twenty years, remembers when Route 1 only had two lanes, which high school students at the time referred to as “The Strip”.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Mahone said regarding Eagle Village. “[The University of Mary Washington] is going to grow.”
Bill and Mary Greenup, who live in Snowden Hills, have been impressed by the speed of construction and expansion of the campus.
Mary graduated from Mary Washington College in 1958 and is excited to see what other changes the University makes.
“I would like to see Giant changed and be more upscale [in comparison],” she said.
Her husband, Bill, praised the construction of the project.
“They moved it quickly, [but it] goes with the territory,” he said. “They’ve done an attractive job.”