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University of Rhode Island officials including President David M. Dooley, center, and Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Collins cut a ceremonial ribbon commemorating the official opening of the school’s new Brookside Hall residence hall Monday morning.

KINGSTON, R.I. — The early reviews for Brookside Hall, the University of Rhode Island’s new $94-million, 500-bed residence hall on the Kingston campus, were glowing at its public unveiling Monday.

“I’m on the third floor and I love it so far. It’s beautiful,” Megan Gray, a fourth-year pharmacy student, said.

URI held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the 203,000-square-foot residence hall that features a café, apartment units with full kitchens and living rooms and landscaped sitting areas around a restored White Horn Brook.

URI President David M. Dooley cut a ceremonial ribbon with Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Collins, other URI officials, students and staff. The ceremonies marked the official opening of the first new residence hall at URI since Hillside Hall, which opened in October 2012.

“We celebrate the opening of a residence hall that substantially builds on our efforts to create dynamic neighborhoods on our Kingston campus and gives students access to the latest technology, functional and comfortable living and learning spaces and our first dining facility within a residence hall,” Dooley said.

The $94 million project is financed with revenue bonds supported by a combination of Department of Housing and Residential Life revenues for the building and associated amenities, and university general revenues for site and infrastructure work.

The 122 student apartments in Brookside are designed for juniors and seniors who want to live on campus. Most are four- and six-bedroom units.

Each unit has a full kitchen with dining table and chairs, a refrigerator, stove, microwave oven, dishwasher and sink. The furnished living rooms have a couch, chairs, coffee table, end tables and a TV table. Central heating and air conditioning can be controlled in each apartment.

Each bedroom is outfitted with a full-size, lofted bed and mattress, three-drawer dresser, wardrobe, mirror, desk and two-position chair.

Students and community members will also be able to eat breakfast, lunch and supper at the 48-seat Brookside Bistro. It’s the first URI Dining Services facility designed as part of a university residence hall.

“I love the community, all the new amenities. Housing did a great job building it so we’re really thrilled to be here,” Gray said, adding that she’s excited about the opening of the bistro in about a week.

“We’ll have our residents just get grab and go, salads, combos, bagels,” she said.

Just outside the residence hall’s front doors, students have safe bike path access to Wakefield, Peace Dale and Narragansett via the URI Bike Path Spur, which opened in November and connects to the William C. O’Neill Bike Path.

“We know that students who are engaged in campus activities feel connected to each other and those who take advantage of our outstanding facilities do better academically, socially, and eventually, professionally,” Dooley said. “We expect this outstanding new residence hall to have a positive effect on all of these critical areas for student development and university community building.”

Gray and other students began moving in Jan. 18, as soon as they were able to do so.   

Collins said Brookside Hall is the latest step in URI’s efforts to build a more robust and vital residential community.

“The beautiful interior spaces are filled with natural light and provide students with wonderful views of our campus, including our newly refurbished Meade Stadium,” she said. “You can almost sense the excitement of future football game days and intramural championships as hundreds of parents and students walk through the area with music blasting from the stadium.”

In addition to the bistro, a 120-seat function room will be available to the community for conferences and other events.

Housing and Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said students who moved into Brookside at the start of the semester are raving about the apartments and the individual rooms.

“We designed the apartment units to be conducive to student interaction and community living, while also giving residents the ability to have private, quiet space in their own rooms,” Minor said. “They can also prepare food in their own kitchens or have the convenient option of eating delicious and nutritious meals prepared by dining services staff in the Brookside Bistro.”

Michael Leone, a third-year pharmacy student, moved into Brookside from Burnside Hall.

“It’s a nice change of pace, just to be able to cook for yourself every day if you choose to, or you could still have a meal plan if you’d like,” he said.

Leone also singled out the bistro as the biggest benefit of the new building.

“That’s going to be the biggest thing, kids just not wanting to cook some days and just grabbing something there and heating it up in their own kitchen,” he said. “Or even our new laundry app, which notifies you when your laundry is done. How much more convenient could it be?”

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