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Posted on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

University of Michigan to renovate one North Campus dormitory, close another

By Kellie Woodhouse


The University of Michigan dormitory Baits I will close permanently next year.

Melanie Maxwell I

A week after announcing that it will close one North Campus dormitory, the University of Michigan will ask the Board of Regents to approve a $12 million renovation to another North Campus residence hall.

A major renovation for the 575-bed Vera B. Baits Houses II residence hall, which requires significant architectural, mechanical, and electrical improvements, will come before regents on Thursday, E. Royster Harper, U-M vice president for student affairs, said in a memo.

This comes on the heels of an announcement that the university will permanently close the 571-student Baits I —the sister dorm of Baits II— next year because it does not meet the mission of University Housing.

"We came to a crossroad," said U-M Housing Communications Director Peter Logan. "One of the guiding principles of our residential life initiative has been to try to create a greater sense of neighborhood, and (Baits I) is not a community that students have really embraced wildly over the years."

Screen shot 2011-11-14 at 2.22.31 PM.png

Bus Route Map of University of Michigan's North Campus

Logan said the minimal amenities and its distance from Bursley Dining Hall put Baits I at a disadvantage from other U-M dormitories.

Major upgrades to the dorm's boiler system, fire suppression system and building infrastructure are necessary to keep it on line and would cost at least $6 million.

However, renovations to the dorm —built in 1966— don't make sense, Logan surmised.

"And it's still no closer to Bursley dining, even if we put some money into it," he said.

For U-M freshmen Kendall Zemmin and Madison Hoase the distance between Baits I and Bursley Dining Hall is a significant inconvenience.

"There is no food space nearby. We have to walk through the woods to eat," said Zemmin. "We’re just kind of freaked out to walk by ourselves at night."

After a spate of sexual assaults this summer, the freshman said they are extremely cautious about walking alone through the isolated grounds of North Campus. Hoase said she will usually ask a friend to go to the dining hall with her when it's dark. If no one is available, she will usually skip the meal.

"The location is a challenge," agreed freshman Clare Rasmussen, also a Baits I resident. "Not only did we get stuck on North Campus, we got the stuck with the worst building on North Campus."

But Logan said that Baits II, which is significantly closer to Bursley dining hall, doesn't face the same problems as its beleaguered sister.

Three years ago the university replaced the building's boilers and upgraded its pipe and vent systems.


University of Michigan North Campus residence hall Baits I will close next year, while Baits II will get a $12 million renovation.

"That investment we put into Baits II, plus the fact that it's much closer to Bursley Hall and residential dining has made it a better location and a better investment than Baits I," Logan said.

While Baits II is clearly in more preferable location than Baits I, some students say it's still too isolated.

"I don’t like it. There’s no cafeteria close by and in the winter it’s going to be a hassle to eat," said freshman Ben Guidos.

According to Guidos, the proposed renovation —which includes new fire detection, alarm, and suppression systems, wireless high-speed network access, new energy-efficient windows and roof systems and new interior finishes and furnishings— is necessary.

"I woke up (one day last week) and there was water in my room, all over my desk and window," he said, adding that several of his fellow students have complained of leaks as well.

The renovation, which is budgeted at $11,950,000, will also reorganize and community areas in the dorm, creating spaces for academic activities, Harper said in the memo.

The proposed $12 million renovation pales in comparison to the scope of recent central campus dorm renovations. In a five-year span, U-M will have spent over $450 million on dorm renovations, including a $49 million renovation to the 525-bed Couzen's hall and the current $56 million renovation to Alice C. Lloyd Hall, which houses roughly 560 students.

On Thursday, the regents will also discuss the schematic design for a $116 million renovation to East Quadrangle, which is home to about 860 students. The Central Campus dorm was built in the 1940s.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Geez, I'm getting old. When I lived in the Burlodge, Baits was upper-class student housing only. That's where a lot of transfer students went. IIRC, the meal plan was optional in Baits, so a lot of people kept small fridges, microwaves, and hot pots and didn't need to walk to Bursley.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Oops, I should've said the view at Baits I is one of the best. Anyway, I also would have liked a little more detailed information about this choice of closing Baits I, and the cost benefit.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

I don't understand why a cafeteria can't be added to Baits I and II for that matter, or in between the 2 of them. It really should be a reduced fee for living there. Some students and families might really appreciate the savings and the location to the music school. How about a shuttle van back and forth for dining service? it could be a student job.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

As posted already, the rates are lower, but just a few hundred dollars. There already is a bus that runs between Baits, Bursley, North Campus commons, Main Campus. No additional bus is needed.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Do the students really have to walk through the woods? I thought that there was a bus stop at all of these locations that ran very regularly. I rode it all the time as a kid. I remember a quick stop to each one of these buildings. I would hop off, and get back on within about 15 minutes....One of the best views of the city is at Baits II. If there were *more* housing on North Campus, it seems like the community aspect would be enhanced. There is already 10X the restaurant choices at Plymouth and Murfin. (Though, I know, no more Lum's......) And Pierpont Commons also has so much more to offer. What will happen to the property at Baits II?


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Lum's.... Hey we are showing our age!!

Jim Osborn

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

If I were an incoming student, I rather have the choice of Baits 1 than nothing. Or, if not as desirable, at a reduced fee. Does this mean that there is a high rate of unoccupied rooms in the dorms? Last I heard, the opposite was true. Closing it after only 45 years seems very wasteful. The dorm already exists, and the dorm fees collected would pay for the improvements, $6 million would be a bargain for a new dorm. They could even add a cafeteria, and still have a dorm for a small fraction of what they spent for North Quad. This seems like a poor management, and not too "green" I wish this article had more details


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

The dorms are full. I don't know the full capacity of Baits I, but clearly the removal of it will result in a lower capacity, since the only new dorm is North Quad, plus they've closed a dorm each year for renovations. Only freshman are guaranteed housing, and most upperclassmen choose to move off campus. Adding a cafeteria would be expensive including staffing, and absurd considering that Bursley is next door. People walk on the Hill to a cafeteria, they can walk at Baits. Security concerns do need to be addressed.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

North Campus housing in general is considered Siberia by students. Those in the Music School may chose to live there, but have to realize the significant negative social life. Main Campus is where all students want to live. Baits used to be for transfer students, ELI (English Language Institute, those here to learn English), and grad students, with Bursley for freshmen and students that chose to live there. Back then Music, Art and Architecture, and a little Engineering was on North Campus. We got stuck there as Junior transfers, my roommate was in his 50s, from Nicaragua, and only spoke Spanish. I took French in high school... Baits has nicer rooms with bathrooms shared by every two rooms (which students clean). Putting freshmen there was a really bad idea. Our experience at Michigan was much different than that of our children (both lived in Markley freshman year), vastly INFERIOR.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

The Dorm residents on North Campus have to be aware of wild animals in the woods surrounding the Dorms. Those "Undocumented" Geese are a real pain.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Baits I = Ann Arbor Conference Center!!!


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Gotta be a lot cheaper to bring it up to code and renovate than to build a new one?


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

Doesn't meet code...


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

Do the students who must walk through the dark for food also be required to pay the same dorm fees as those living on main campus without these inconveniences and safety issues? I would hope the University balances this obvious imbalance for the students and parents paying the bills.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Slightly less.