This conceptual drawing by JBHM Architecture depicts what planned apartment-style student housing on EMCC’s Scooba campus might look like.

January 29, 2024

Plans are in the works to construct apartment-style student housing on East Mississippi Community College’s Scooba campus to replace two 75-year-old dormitories that are no longer in use.

“We are looking at townhouse-type units that would be constructed at locations around the campus,” EMCC Vice President of Operations Dr. Paul Miller said. “They would be set up like small villages that would have more of an apartment feel that we believe would be pretty attractive to students.”

Tentative plans call for adding about 40 new beds a year, with the first units to possibly open to students in 2025. JBHM Architecture’s Columbus office was selected to design the units, which will consist of two-story town-home style buildings of various sizes.

One plan calls for a duplex that would house 16 students, while another would consist of four two-bedroom units, with two downstairs and two upstairs.

“We are looking at colors and exterior materials so they would have more of a residential feel to them,” Miller said. “We are kind of excited about the layout because we have some good spaces we could utilize on the back side of the campus.”

Plans are to eventually replace the Katrina style cottages used by some student athletes. One of the benefits of apartment-style housing, Miller said, is that state funds earmarked for capital improvement projects can be used, along with EMCC matching funds, to build the units without having to issue bonds.

“We can take $1 million or $2 million at a time and build some of the units and they will be debt free when the students move into them,” Miller said.

Kemper Hall, EMCC’s newest residence hall, opened to students in January 2021. A state allocation funded $5.5 million of the $11.5-million cost of the 147-bed, three story building, with EMCC issuing a local bond of $6 million to pay the remaining cost. In addition to Kemper Hall and the Athletic Cottages, EMCC has four other residential dormitories: Gilbert Anderson Hall, Women’s Honors Hall, Men’s Honors Hall and Sullivan Hall.

The need for additional student housing was exacerbated by the closing of two men’s dormitories constructed in 1948. Noxubee Hall was shuttered at the conclusion of the fall 2020 semester, while Lauderdale Hall closed two years later in late 2022. Plans call for demolishing the dormitories, possibly later this year.The two oldest dormitories on EMCC’s Scooba campus, Noxubee Hall, at left, and Lauderdale Hall, background, are vacant and will be demolished. Plans are in the works to construct apartment-style student housing that will be situated around the Scooba campus.

Hopes were to renovate the halls. Of the two, Noxubee Hall was in better condition and planned repairs to that building were halted following an inspection by the Mississippi Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management.

“When they opened some of the walls to look in there, they discovered a lot of deterioration of the metal,” Miller said. “The cost of the repairs would be more than we needed it to be for us to keep the building. It is going to be more cost effective for us to take both these buildings down and clear that space for other options.”

After preliminary work such as asbestos removal is completed to prepare the buildings for demolition, a contractor will be hired to take down the two buildings and remove the debris. The old cafeteria building, which is located across from the administrative building, has been vacant for more than a decade and will also be torn down.

“Embracing progress means recognizing that the future of our campus community lies in our willingness to tear down the walls of tradition and make room for innovation,” EMCC Director of Housing Lapari Morant said. “Noxubee and Lauderdale Halls have served us well, but their time has passed. To truly elevate the student experience, we must replace the old with the new – forging state-of-the-art residence halls that will stand as symbols of our commitment to excellence and a brighter future for all.”