Florida A & M University is tearing down nearly half of its dorms makring the start of an overhaul of campus housing.
Walking onto FAMU’s campus it may sound like an construction zone. That’s because bulldozers have begun tearing out the walls at Diamond, McGuinn, Cropper and Wheatley Halls.
FAMU President Larry Robinson says Truth, Paddyfote and Palmetto North are all slated to be demolished as well.
Robinson says the move is long overdue, epecially for Diamond and McGuinn.
“They’re not functional," he said. "We’re paying for maintaining those without generating any revenue because as long as they’re standing there’s a certain degree of maintenance that we have to do. That includes some utilities we have to pay for, and until we demolish them we would have to continue to do that."
Diamond and McGuinn are being replaced with a $2.7 million amphitheater proposed by the Student Government Association with the student body paying more than half of the fees.
But students have questions about the plans.
“We lack housing or the housing is on the way out--like, Paddyfote and Truth are really struggling," said Kaitlin Haynes, an English major. "And even palmetto south and phase and struggling. When I lived in both Palmetto South and [the] Phase, the pipes burst multiple times. So, it’s like, why are we building an amphitheater when we need more housing and our enrollment keeps going up?”
FAMU Housing posted a picture of the demolition on Twitter and Instagram causing an outcry of sadness and reminiscing from students and alumni.
Robinson says renovations weren’t possible for the dorms and would have been too expensive. It’s cheaper to tear down and build elsewhere.
He says he's been asked about rebuilding new dorms on the site, but "that wouldn’t work because of the infrastructure, the age of the infrastructure beneath that facility and in that particular location."
The university is constructing its new dorm facility with a low-interest loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. It's also using that program to refinance existing loands and Robinson says teh savings from that refinancing will be used to address additional renovation and maintenance needs.
A new dorm with 700 rooms is slated for reconstruction near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Osceola Street.