- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Two 23-story dormitory towers on the University of Kentucky campus will be empty for this fall semester as the school decides what to do with them.

The university is planning to either renovate or raze the Kirwan and Blanding towers. Closing those residence halls means the number of low-cost housing options for students will be reduced, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported (https://bit.ly/1ETXDkk).

The administration has not decided on a long-term plan for the towers. Demolishing or renovating them would cost more than $10 million, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. UK plans to vacate the towers, which together can house about 1,200 students, before the upcoming semester and keep them empty until the university develops a plan.

The towers and a surrounding complex of low-rise housing are the only remaining dorms, aside from Greek housing and UK-operated apartments, that cost less than $3,000 per semester.

Some students were concerned that eliminating lower-cost housing could create hardships for low-income students.

“There are benefits in some ways to having a newer facility, but there are students who pay out of pocket and that could be difficult for them,” said Rosalyn Robinson, assistant director of UK’s Martin Luther King Center. “Everyone doesn’t have scholarships, everyone doesn’t have parents who can pay for that.”

Blanton said the transition to newer dorms focuses on creating living-learning spaces, which place students with similar classes in the same dorm to create out-of-the-classroom educational opportunities.

“The older residence halls, which lacked classrooms, community and collaborative spaces, as well as consistent high-tech capacity, did not and could not provide that kind of experience,” Blanton said.

Since 2005, UK has added or replaced more than 5,200 beds on campus with the construction of new dorms. By August 2016, when new residence halls on the north side of campus are finished, that number will rise to 6,400 beds.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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