BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There is a huge transformation underway at Louisiana State University. LSU leaders have come up with housing plans that could draw students back to campus life.
One look at the pile of rubble sitting on the old West Nicholson Apartment property, and it is hard to imagine something spectacular taking shape there. University leaders have decided to tear down the student complex for married couples to make way for a changing dynamic.
"Two decades ago we were at 90% for married students, but over the years that has shifted," Steve Waller said.
Executive Director of Residential Life and Housing, Steve Waller, said that number has dwindled to a mere 10%. That is why, he said, LSU is now focused on rebuilding to suit married and single upper classman. University leaders are making way for a gateway along Nicholson Drive, from Skip Bertman Dr. to West Chimes St. It includes 25 acres of housing, bike paths, and a retail plaza.
"One of the things we're looking at is, Walmart has a collegiate model they're using at different schools where it has a grocery store and a pharmacy," Waller said.
Waller said it would encourage more students to live on campus.
"Oh, I would love that. We have to leave for class 30 minutes early just to get a good spot, allow time to walk," student Ashley Martin said.
"We're going to live on campus next year, and I can't wait because we won't have to worry about that," student Caroline Beslin said.
Waller said the plaza won't be just for students but also for visitors looking for something more.
"A lot of people come out to see Mike the tiger on a Sunday. Parents bring their children. After you see Mike the tiger, what do you do? You go back home. But what about if you walk across the street and can have a brunch," Waller explained.
If the LSU Board of Supervisors approves the plan this summer, Waller said construction could start as soon as next year.
Meantime, Waller said this debris will be cleared and converted into temporary parking for athletic events.