Students can now live the ‘suite’ life in Presby Hall


Matt Gust, a sophomore studying in finance, leans against a counter in his suite in Presby Hall on Saturday afternoon while Shelby Svientek, also a Presby resident, sits in a chair and does homework. Gust Svientek are both happy with their rooms. Trevor Greene

By James VandeBerg

A multitude of new living options have sprouted up across campus over the last year. One of these is Presby Hall, attached to the McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation at 405 E. John St. in Champaign.

This is not your typical dorm, with small rooms and communal bathrooms, however. Presby refers to its residences as “suite-style,” with each unit having its own kitchen and bathroom. Suites also have a washer and dryer, as well as a balcony, making them more similar to apartments than a standard dorm room.

Suites hold either five or six residents, using a mix of double and single bedrooms.

Although the building is brand new for this year, students moved in on time on Aug. 21, said Kristin Mennig, property manager for Presby Hall.

All major areas of the building were completed at that time, though some final touches are still being added, including the fitness center and the connecting hallway to the McKinley Foundation, Mennig said.

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Although the facility is connected to the McKinley Foundation and its church, residents are not required to participate in any religious functions. The building has a resident advisor on each floor and a live-in resident director, just as University residence halls do, according to Presby Hall’s Web site.

The facility can hold 262 students, with 10 beds currently empty, giving an occupancy rate of around 95 percent, Mennig said.

Presby Hall does not have a dining hall of its own, but students can buy meal plans valid at Bromley and Newman Halls. Freshmen are required to purchase a meal plan, according to Presby’s web Site.

Rates for the building are slightly higher than those of the University residence halls. A double room with a 14-meal a week dining plan costs $9,715 at Presby, compared to $8,214 for a double room with a 14-meal a week plan in the University residence halls, according to their respective Web sites.

The building is also touted as the only green dorm on campus. It features a geothermal heating and cooling system, which uses cooler underground water to cool the building in the summer and, when it is warmer underground in the winter, to heat it, Mennig said. Also, the building has been designed to conserve water and uses energy efficient light bulbs.

“We’re hoping its very cost-effective,” Mennig said.

For students, the amenities the building offers are some of the biggest draws.

Kristen Radomski, freshman in LAS, said she likes having a living room, kitchen and washer and dryer instead of the bare-bones conditions found in most dorm rooms.

“I was thinking about Bromley at first, but then I decided it’s nicer here,” she said.

The location of the building, at the corner of Fifth and John Streets in Champaign, also attracted students, including Michelle Taugner, freshman in Business. Taugner also enjoys having five roommates, and said she thinks its more fun than having just one.