This summer, Elmira Jeffries will reopen its rooms to students, but no longer as a dormitory. After more than 10 years of serving as a residence hall, the 1500 N. 15th St. building will now transition into a non-Temple-affiliated apartment complex.
The change comes after a decision from Temple not to renew its lease with Philadelphia Management Corporation, the company which owns the complex.
“We decided that the relationship as it existed had matured,” said Michael Scales, associate vice president of student affairs. “We were ready to go in a different direction.”
Debate over the future of Elmira Jeffries first surfaced last year after a delay in the renewal of the lease for the 2014-15 school year. Scales said the decision was made at that time.
“[Temple] deferred for a year to allow PMC time to market,” Scales said.
Kate Groshong, the director of marketing for PMC, said that Elmira Jeffries – which has traditionally held sophomores and upperclassmen – will continue to be marketed to Temple’s undergraduate and graduate students.
Along with the change in status, Groshong said that the building will get a new look.
“We’ll keep the bones in place,” Groshong said, referring to the apartment-style layout of the rooms. Changes will include hardwood floors, new washers and dryers and upgrades for the lobby and resident lounges.
Renovations began this year with the addition of a fitness center in the basement of the building.
Groshong said the anticipated completion for the building is July and will then operate similarly to Kardon Atlantic, another Temple-affiliated PMC property.
Scales said he doesn’t believe that discontinuing Elmira Jeffries’ contract will push many more students toward searching for housing within the local community, since the property only represents a small percentage of university housing. The building contains 140 spots.
“As a policy decision, this is going to have an iota as regards to negative effects on the community,” Scales said.
Scales said part of the decision was based on how Temple values having residence halls which are owned and operated by the university, which allows Temple to provide its own residential experience. With Elmira Jeffries, PMC was responsible for upkeep of the building.
In 2013, Temple ended a similar contract with The Edge. Temple had previously leased approximately 750 beds from the building to serve as additional on-campus housing.
In a prior article for The Temple News, Scales had cited the opening of Morgan Hall, which provides space for more than 1,200 students, in addition to the demand for university-owned and operated residence halls as the main factors for ending The Edge’s lease.
However, several students who are currently living in Elmira Jeffries said they were disappointed about the decision.
“[There’s] no option on campus like this,” said Zander Olson, a 20-year-old sophomore biology major.
“It’s a hidden gem,” added Victoria Samsel, a 19-year-old sophomore criminal justice major.
Samsel said she discovered the often-overlooked dorm from a friend she planned on living with.
“It was awesome, I wasn’t expecting that,” said Samsel, referring to the spacious living areas and view from the windows.
Samsel added that she would have stayed at Elmira Jeffries again next year if it was still a residence hall. Unable to pay rent, Samsel said she’s now looking for other options to remain in student housing, like applying to be a Resident Assistant.
Samsel said she’s heard other students in Elmira Jeffries say they’re also sad that Elmira Jeffries will no longer be a residence hall.
“Staying off campus, there’s all these variables,” Olson said. “Staying on campus is simpler.”
Mariam Dembele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org