It will cost $8.7 million to house Virginia Tech students in a pair of Blacksburg hotels as a result of the school’s enrollment surge coming in the fall.
The figure comes from a pair of contracts between the university and the hotels provided to The Roanoke Times Thursday via the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The hotel space is necessitated by an unprecedented spike in enrollment. The university announced in May that it had enrolled close to 1,000 more freshmen than it had planned.
Virginia Tech will pay Blacksburg Holiday Inn Express owner Blacksburg Hospitality Group LLC — its registered agent is Dennis Dowdy — a total of $3.7 million to use that hotel, located on Plantation Road, for 10 months.
The money will be paid in monthly installments of varying amounts for the hotel “to be used and occupied by the Tenant [Virginia Tech] for residential use by students,” according to the lease agreement.
A general manager at the hotel deferred comment to Newport Hospitality Group, which manages the property. A message left for company senior vice president Andrew Simasek was not immediately returned Thursday.
Three of the four floors of rooms at the Inn at Virginia Tech will cost a little more than $5 million to be transferred from Tech’s Student Affairs to the Inn at Virginia Tech, which is owned by the university. So, in the case of the Inn, Tech will be transferring money internally.
“The Inn is pleased to offer the following accommodations based on The Inn’s understanding of Student Affairs’ present needs,” the guest room agreement says.
Many of the current operations at the Inn at Virginia Tech will continue, Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said. Conferences already scheduled will occur, and the fourth floor will still be checked out by guests, he said. Preston’s restaurant will continue to operate, although it won’t be included on a student meal plan.
The room rate at the Holiday Inn will be $3,755 per semester, per student.
At the Inn at Virginia Tech, the rate will be $3,775. There, most rooms will be triple occupancy. Each student living in triple rooms will receive a 20% room credit for each semester the room has three or more residents.
The costs are comparable to some on-campus dorms. On the campus, residence halls range in price, with suite styles being more expensive and some older traditional style rooms costing less.
The payments from students will cover a portion of the costs to Tech. The university will have to make up the difference in a manner to be determined, Owczarski said.
The normal hotel room furniture at the Holiday Inn Express and Inn at Virginia Tech will be moved out and students will sleep on twin XL beds, such as in a typical dorm room. Students will not be allowed to park at the Inn at Virginia Tech, while some will be able to get a commuter pass for the Holiday Inn Express. A Blacksburg Transit stop is near the Plantation Road hotel.
Continental breakfast will be available at the Holiday Inn Express Monday through Friday, while students will be able to utilize grab-and-go options at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Students can purchase meal plans to eat at other dining halls.
Tech has used a number of other strategies to handle the extra students. The school said 49 students took its unique offer to delay enrollment for cash incentives. Those incentives included a scholarship to take a gap year, paying for community college and including the option to only attend the school in the spring or fall and take summer courses.
The university has also announced about 100 returning students have opted out of housing contracts and 84 freshmen have elected to live off campus.
The strategies appear to be working as the university and town brace for the influx of freshmen in the fall, Owczarski said.
“We will be ready when the students come,” he said.
Owczarski recommend anyone with questions about impacts from the enrollment surge visit vt.edu/vt23.