SALEM — Salem State University will begin preliminary utility work next week on a 400-student, five-story residence hall it plans to build on its central campus along Loring Avenue — and the proposal has some neighbors up in arms.
The proposed new dorm, set to open in the fall of 2015, has sparked concerns for its size, proximity to nearby houses and speed at which the project appears to be moving.
“I, for one, feel blindsided,” said Polly Wilbert, a member of the South Salem Neighborhood Association.
The new state building, which is exempt from local zoning, was discussed at an Oct. 15 meeting of the Salem State University Neighborhood Advisory Committee. Architects even brought along a model.
Following that meeting, Ward 7 City Councilor Joseph O’Keefe wrote to Edward Adelman, executive director of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority, to share his concerns.
“This letter will confirm my objections to the mass and height of this proposed central campus residence hall,” O’Keefe stated.
Specifically, O’Keefe said he is concerned about a five-story residence hall being located near residents’ homes, he and suggested a four-story building would be better.
“I do not believe residents ... on Loring Avenue should look out their rear windows to an adjoining five-story (60 feet) residence hall literally hovering over their homes,” he wrote.
The new dorm would be the third residence hall built on the central campus in the past decade. Atlantic Hall, with 450 beds, opened in 2004, and 525-bed Marsh Hall opened in 2009.
A college spokeswoman stressed that plans are not final.
“There were some concerns expressed by neighbors, and I think those concerns were definitely heard,” said Karen Cady. “What the architects are currently doing is reviewing the various options to see what accommodations can be made to address those concerns.”
The college’s architects will present new, and possibly modified, plans at a Nov. 19 meeting of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee.