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Photo: Joshua Hands

The University of Ottawa has announced plans to open their third new residence in 12 months, renovating the Quality Hotel at Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue into a 414-room residence.

The new property will help ease the pressure of the U of O’s housing needs and beat back competition from private developers in the area. By September the university will be able to house 4,000 first-year students on or near campus, up by almost 1,000 spaces in a year.

“We see this as really a win-win across the board,” said Michel Guilbeault, director of Housing Service.

Guilbeault said the hotel was chosen because of its proximity to campus and nearby amenities.  “A hotel conversion can be done rather quickly,” he said, adding that the university plans to open the Rideau residence by September.

The new residence will be one of the more expensive options for incoming first-year students, at around $825 per month.

But Guilbault said the cost includes many services such as 24/7 staff, cable, and Internet. Each room will have additional features like air conditioning, double beds, a kitchen, a full ensuite bathroom, and a flat screen TV.

Meal plans will not be mandatory for new residents. The university is also looking into including commercial businesses in the building.

Similar to the Friel residence, the Rideau residence will have a 24/7 reception desk and security, with community advisors and partnerships with Protection Services and Foot Patrol to ensure students walking home after evening classes feel safe.

Despite its location in the heart of downtown, a bit further from campus than other residence buildings, students living at Friel were among the most satisfied with safety in recent surveys, according to Guilbeault.

The U of O will also be opening an 172-unit residence on Henderson Avenue this fall.

Members of the Friel residence have worked on numerous initiatives to become a part of the surrounding community, according to Carine Bélanger, the resident coordinator, who said community engagement was something she wanted to focus on specifically when she took the job last summer.

“We worked really closely with the centre of community and global engagement,” she said, having hosted four “very successful” events.

According to Bélanger, Housing Services is also developing a “living learning community” that will work specifically on community engagement projects.