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New UHV residence hall opens (video)

By Elena Watts
Aug. 18, 2013 at 3:18 a.m.

Sheilat Akapo, 19, a sophomore, speaks about Jaguar Suites, the new student dorm at the University of Houston-Victoria. She moved in early because she is in preseason training for the soccer team. The suites feature four private bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a common area.

Sheilat Akapo, 19, moved into the University of Houston-Victoria's new Jaguar Suites early.

She and her UHV women's soccer teammates were admitted early for preseason practice.

Her suite is one of 54 in the $11.5 million, 82,000-square-foot residence hall.

"I was OK sharing a room in Jaguar Hall, but here we can hang out in the living room, and when I get tired, I can go to my room and close the door, listen to music or do whatever I want," Akapo said.

Sophomores and upperclassmen officially begin moving into the newly constructed three-story Jaguar Suites on Wednesday. The residence hall is located between Jaguar Hall and Jaguar Court on Houston Highway.

Each suite features four bedrooms and two bathrooms with a shared kitchenette and living area. Bedrooms come furnished with beds and desks. Each kitchen includes a refrigerator, microwave, sink and cabinets, while a flat-screen television, couch and chair outfit each living area. Cable and Wi-Fi are included. Residents share common computer labs, study areas and laundry rooms on each floor.

"The opening of Jaguar Suites is another milestone in UHV's evolution as a residential university," UHV President Phil Castille said in a news release. "The three residence halls that comprise Jaguar Village will bring our capacity to more than 600 beds to house students."

Residents share a communal stovetop oven in a large, first-floor multipurpose room. The room serves as a site for social functions, seminars and even community workshops. Seminar rooms with interactive televisions can double as small classrooms. A second-floor fitness center and swimming pool round out the offerings.

Expanded Jaguar Hall dining serves the three residence halls and offers new food stations, a pizza conveyor oven, a grill and a 3-D digital nutrition wall.

"It will be nice for all students living in Jaguar Village to have a nearby place to study," Moses Olukoya, 20, UHV Student Government Association president and a resident assistant at the suites said in a news release. "It's truly going to be a residential community because students can eat, work out, use the computers and study without leaving Jaguar Village."

The new building is hurricane-resistant up to a Category three storm. Other safety features include 27 interior security cameras, locked doors equipped with card readers and a front desk staffed between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The residence hall is at 30 percent occupancy, said Brandon Lee, 31, director of housing for Jaguar Village.

"We deliberately overbuilt Jaguar Suites to add capacity to meet future needs as UHV continues to expand its resident student population," Castille said in a news release.

This fall, students will be housed on the first and second floors. The third floor will be used to temporarily house conference and workshop programs.

The university is also working with VISD to help house new, single teachers who cannot find housing, said Kim Pickens, UHV facilities sales coordinator. Suites are available for $600 per month or $60 per night per person. Medical interns are among potential occupants of the unused third floor space as well.

Since 2009, UHV has invested $25 million in the rehabilitation of Houston Highway with Jaguar Village.

"We completely refurbished two run-down hotels and built a new centerpiece," Castille said.

The Remington luxury apartments would likely not be a neighbor without the catalyst started by the university's rehabilitation, and Wal-Mart would likely not have picked its new location without the repopulation brought on by the improvements, he said.



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