A collective sigh of relief was heard on Town Center Drive in Dearborn on Monday as partners in bringing student housing to the University of Michigan-Dearborn broke ground on the $30 million project.
"This is a fantastically happy day for the University of Michigan-Dearborn," commented an exuberant Chancellor Daniel Little at the groundbreaking ceremony. "It's not a huge project in any respect ... except to our students."
More: Plans Finalized for UM-Dearborn Student Housing
The Union at Dearborn—located in the former Ford Land buildings at 760 and 780 Town Center Drive just east of the campus—is set to open next fall. The development, funded by Urban Campus Communities, will include apartments for more than 500 students, as well as meeting rooms, student gathering spaces, group study rooms, offices for student organizations and a cabaret-style theater.
UCC Managing Partner Larry Winokur explained that the project—which took four years to finalize—was not without its hiccups, but one that all parties involved truly believed in.
"It's been a long trek with many detours and diversions, but it's over," he said. "By Labor Day of next year, this whole area will be teeming with 500 students."
Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly added that the city was happy to support a project he said will bring new residents, workers, and consumers to Dearborn.
"I believe dorms are going to increase the student population by 2,000," he said, explaining that once the university could better gauge demand for housing, more developments were likely to follow.
"Piece by piece," he added, "we hope to expand."