I have seen, and heard, construction from the back deck of my house for the past year. Ground was broken on the Grace Street Apartments in January 2014 and significant progress has been made since the project’s inception. It will be completely constructed, painted and furnished by move-in day this year.
As James Madison expands its territory and the student population grows, it is imperative for the school to house more students. The answer: Grace Street Apartments.
Over 500 students, including resident advisors and a full-time professional hall director, will live in these new apartments. The apartments will house upperclassmen, so incoming freshmen will have to wait to call Grace Street home. Room selection has already occurred, so sophomores, juniors and seniors will have the first opportunity to experience the new apartments.
With about 200 upperclassman bedspaces taken off the market from the removal of Rockingham Hall, these additional rooms will satisfy the demand for students that want to live on campus after their first year.
Grace Street Apartments are not your typical dorm. The new building has a modern atmosphere.The atrium is open and the lobby on the second floor overlooks the main lobby and out into the courtyard. Huge glass windows allow you to peer out into the courtyard the size of football field. There is even a Subway restaurant with outdoor patio seating for the convenience and enjoyment of residents.
Billiards and ping pong tables will be available for students to take a break from the mental strains of school. Sand volleyball and an outdoor basketball court will help foster a community of active students that enjoy spending time with one another. There is even a BBQ area to make cookouts under the courtyard pergola possible.
This magnificent construction is still a work in progress, but JMU is attempting to erect the building with minimal impact on the environment. The crew is currently going for a LEED certification. Part of earning this certification means using as many building supplies as possible that come from within 500 miles from the site, leaving less of a carbon footprint.
Grace Street Apartments also possess two bio-retention ponds that make the residence even more appealing. These are housed underground in the courtyard. They will be filled with beautiful plants and wildlife to filter water draining back into the environment in an eco-friendly manner.
Another interesting feature of Grace Street is the HVAC system is accessible from the hallway. This means you won’t have maintenance men waking you up at 8:00 in the morning to perform routine maintenance throughout the year.
The Grace Street Apartments offer a unique opportunity for JMU upperclassmen to experience benefits of both on and off campus apartments.
The apartments are located on Grace Street, approximately halfway between Memorial Hall and the Student Success Center. This close proximity to campus provides students the flexibility to walk anywhere on campus. It’s roughly a 12 minute walk to Showker and about seven minutes to the Quad. For those that need to make the trek to East Campus, a bus stop is conveniently located a few hundred feet from the front door of the apartment. If you are more of a cyclist, there are 38 sheltered and lightened racks to protect your bike from the elements and a plethora of other bikes racks located around the building.
Not only do the apartments provide convenient access to campus, they open up a world of possibilities to downtown Harrisonburg. You can walk to any of your favorite restaurants or shops in about ten minutes, directly down South Main Street. Most off campus apartments take you away from the heart of Harrisonburg; the Grace Street Apartments keep students in the middle of everything.
Room layout differentiates the Grace Street Apartments from everything else on-campus. There are three different types of room layouts.
The majority of the apartments (95 units), are two bedroom double occupancy units. Four students live in two bedrooms, both with a private bathroom. The 180-square foot bedrooms are connected by a living room and a kitchen.
45 units are one bedroom double occupancy apartments. There is one bedroom that sleeps two. Similar to the two bedroom double, the units are equipped with a bathroom, kitchen and living room.
There are 15 two bedroom single occupancy units. Two roommates live together, but each has their own 110 square foot room. These units are fully handicap accessible, with lowered counters, wheel in showers, and other accommodations. Resident advisors and roommates will live in these units.
Compared to on-campus dorms, Grace Street Apartments only cost students an extra $500 per semester. This price tag is still cheaper than most off-campus apartments, making Grace Street the ideal value spot for upperclassmen looking to reap the benefits of on-campus living.
I lived in Converse Hall my sophomore year. I loved the on-campus convenience, especially since I did not have a car. I just wish Grace Street was constructed two years earlier, so I would have had the opportunity to live in this incredible building. No dorms can match the amenities and design of the Grace Street Apartments.