The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga broke ground on a new West Campus housing facility Tuesday. The building will include 600 new beds in a traditional living style, along with more than 600 car parking spaces, and 22 motorcycle spaces. The building will include a dining area with talks of "Steak and Shake" moving in. Three classrooms will be used as a living and learning center and a demonstration kitchen will be built in the building.

For students the new housing complex means a new home on campus. But for the community this complex is intended to encourage students and staff to be more involved with downtown through internships, research projects, and shopping local.

A crowded parking lot will soon be home to 600 students at UTC in the fall of 2018. The new complex will focus on community involvement with students. The goal is to bring students downtown while also bringing the community to campus. Plans are to build cafes, a bookstore, and be in walking distance of local shops. “Vine Street could be an amazing corridor and really bring the community on campus and make the students more a part of downtown,” said Kim White, the President and CEO of River City Company.

For freshman students more housing on campus means a better chance on being integrated into the campus community. “A lot of times there is not enough and this complex is going to be made specifically for building freshman community which I think is amazing,” said freshman Caroline.

Campus officials say UTC has struggled in recent years with a housing shortage. Freshman often find their new home at local hotels for their first fall semester away from mom and dad. With a new housing complex coming to the city-- staff at The Read House are sad to see the energy from the students disappear but are thrilled the university is moving forward. “The university growing is good for the city. Good for our business, in general student housing isn't our primary business. We were happy to be able to help out during those times when they needed it,” said Kim Owen Dinsmoor.      

White says there is a demand for 3,500 units in student housing on UTC’s campus. With the current demand she says research shows 2,300 units could be absorbed immediately.