CU could turn to hotels to help house students in the fall

BOULDER — Some University of Colorado students may be trading their on-campus dorm rooms for an off-campus hotel room when school begins in the fall. The Boulder university has confirmed it is in conversations with local hotels to rent rooms in order to allow students to be more socially distanced than they would be in full capacity dorms.  “CU Boulder is currently under negotiation with local hotels to potentially house a small percentage of students this fall,” CU spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said in an email to BizWest.    BizWest has submitted an open records request to CU for any requests for proposals the school has issued or contracts signed related to renting hotel space. Those records have yet to be provided. “In support of the health of our community, we are decreasing student housing density across campus,” CU officials wrote in an email to students last week “… With more limited housing capacity and our commitment to housing all students who applied, we are working to create and replicate the residence hall experience in other housing spaces, including potentially utilizing a hotel as a residence hall space.” Of the potential hotel space, CU said, “This living space would be operated with campus housing staff and include additional amenities and resources.” In a letter to CU faculty sent this week, CU provost Russell Moore and executive vice chancellor Patrick O’Rourke said, “We would not ask students, faculty and staff to return to campus without investing in health and safety measures. Those costs are a campus priority and continue to grow into the tens of millions.” CU is facing a general fund deficit approaching $120 million, the CU leaders wrote.  Should the university move forward with plans to lease hotel space, that could be an important boost for Boulder’s hoteliers who have seen occupancy rates plummet in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.  “Some business would be good,” Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Maryann Mahoney told BizWest. “The outlook in the near future doesn’t seem to be very good.” Hotels are often reliant on group bookings from events such as conferences. Mahoney said she doesn’t expect those events to return to Boulder anytime soon. CU renting a large block of rooms for an extended period of time could help make up for some of the lost group revenue. The university may not only be interested in renting rooms, Mahoney said. Hotel conference and ball rooms could serve as study areas or cafeterias for students.  It is unclear as to whether the region’s other two major universities, Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, plan to follow CU’s lead and seek to secure hotel space for students.  A spokesman for UNC said the school has had “very informal preliminary conversations” with off-campus properties, including hotels. However, he said UNC is anticipating being able to accomodate students in its on-campus housing. A spokeswoman for CSU did not respond to a request for comment. © 2020 […]
Source: BizWest

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