Hamden PZC approves South Quad project after three months of public hearings

Cat Murphy, Associate News Editor

The Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission granted final approval to Quinnipiac University’s South Quad project Dec. 13, Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan wrote in a press release Dec. 15. 

“This is a great example of our community’s shared vision for the future,” wrote Bethany Zemba, vice president for strategy and community relations, in the release. “Together, we are building The University of the Future, recognizing the vision of the strategic plan, commissioned under the leadership of President Judy Olian.”

The commission’s Dec. 13, vote to approve the university’s final site plans for the South Quad project followed three months of contentious deliberation. 

Quinnipiac’s South Quad plan will include a 142,00-square-foot general academic building, an 80,000-square-foot business school and a 417-bed first-year residence hall. (Screenshot from Quinnipiac’s master facilities plan)

“Tuesday night’s approval of the three new buildings that will create the South Quad is an exciting and necessary chapter for the university’s growth and competitiveness,” wrote  Nancy Dudchik, president of the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce, in the release. “It’s an important step in the university’s decision to have all underclassmen reside on campus as well as adding two new academic buildings.”

University officials first applied in September to rezone the Mount Carmel Campus as a planning and development zone in preparation for South Quad construction, according to the Sept. 13, meeting minutes

The campus’ previous residential-two zoning designation did not facilitate university-type development and instead encouraged “development of low-density residential uses,” according to Hamden zoning regulations

Conversely, a PDD zone is “intended to encourage and accommodate unique and desirable development that is not able to be accommodated by conventional zoning,” according to a zoning update issued by the commission Oct. 13.

However, the dual-step PDD approval process required the commission to approve Quinnipiac’s initial concept development plan before the university could apply for final site development plan approval. 

Following several postponements amid backlash from local residents concerned about the implications of a PDD designation, the Hamden PZC OK’d the university’s initial application on Nov. 15

Slated to occupy the area between Tator Hall, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Commons residence hall, Morgan said university officials expect to complete the $293 million construction project during the 2024-25 academic year. The university will begin construction on the South Quad just months after completing the new Recreation and Wellness Center.

Provost Debra Liebowitz described the university’s South Quad project in the release as “an exciting development that will help ensure Quinnipiac remains at the forefront of learning for years to come.” 

The project will include a 142,00-square-foot general academic building, an 80,000-square-foot business school and a 417-bed first-year residence hall, according to the release.

The general academic building will feature new classrooms, collaborative spaces, faculty offices and a 700-seat auditorium, according to the release. 

Site plans for the new School of Business include a Business Innovation Hub, a financial technology center and faculty offices, among other amenities. The university will also build an “environmentally conscious central energy plant” below the business school, Morgan wrote.

“The South Quad project is a momentous investment in the future of education at Quinnipiac,” wrote Holly Raider, dean of the School of Business, in the release. “The future home of the School of Business will spark collaborative learning experiences, provide added space for academic and career advising for students, and will accelerate innovation in new areas of study.”

In addition to air conditioning, gathering spaces and an outdoor courtyard, the new first-year dormitory building will include single and double rooms to “accommodate more residential students on campus and enrich the living-learning experience,” according to the release. Tom Ellett, chief experience officer, noted in the release that the new residence hall “includes an apartment for a new faculty-in-residence.”

“Our new residence hall will bring the idea of a living-learning community to a new level,” Ellett wrote. “It offers new opportunities for our students to collaborate and grow with each other — as well as with faculty.”

Morgan told the Chronicle that “there will be activity on the site” on Dec. 19. 

Some Quinnipiac students were unopposed to the South Quad project but admitted that the undertaking seemed unnecessarily expensive.

“I don’t think it’s inherently a terrible idea,” Matthew Infantino, a sophomore psychology major, told the Chronicle on Dec. 15. “I feel like the money could be spent somewhere else.”

Other students questioned the university’s intentions.

“QU cannot claim to not have money and then spend $293 million on this project,” wrote Genesis Paulino, a junior sociology and Latin American studies double major, in a statement to the Chronicle on Dec. 15. “This makes it abundantly clear that QU does not care about the people that keep this university afloat: students, professors, and faculty.”