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UTC use local hotel as housing

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School is back in session, and one local university is feeling the pinch of overcrowding. 

With over 11,000 students enrolled at UTC, housing space continues to be an issue.

The UTC campus master plan shows the school growing to 15,000 students in the next several years. This has them moving towards providing more classroom space, parking space, and most importantly more housing space. "More students have been wanting to live on camps than we can accommodate," said Chuck Cantrell, UTC Spokesperson.

UTC had record enrollment this year with nearly 12,000 students, but the overflow of extra students means they needed a place to live.

So for the fourth year in a row they sent them here to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.

Charmaraine Gaddy tells me she doesn't mind the hotel. "I stay in my room and focus on my homework, there's not many distractions," said Gaddy.

"We set it up just like we would a regular housing facility, there are resident assistants. We have activities there, we run a shuttle from there to the campus," said Cantrell.

However, Cantrell says he's hoping it's a short lived experience for many of them. "You always have students that say they're going to come and then decide not to show up or they get here and for whatever reason they decide to not stay on campus," he said.

Which means rooms should open up for those at the Choo Choo. "We started off this week with about 200 students living in the hotel. By now we're down to 130 and by the end of the semester most of them will be here on campus," said Cantrell.

Cantrell says last year only 50 students stayed in the hotel for the entire school year.

But he says showing signs of growth isn't a bad thing. "We have to establish need in the state of Tennessee before we can move forward with the construction of new housing," said Cantrell.

He says they have the money for a new housing facility, but have to get authorization from the state to continue. But even with authorization, Cantrell says the project won't be complete overnight and students can expect to be placed in the hotel for another two years.

Cantrell said their number one choice for a new housing facility is in the Tennessee state building downtown.

They're hoping to finalize a location and start breaking ground this fall with a final product complete by the fall of 2016.

Until then, the Chattanooga Choo Choo says they like having the students there, because it fills their rooms.

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