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New student housing facility is near UW-Platteville campus and St. Augustine Parish Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
newman heights
Newman Heights, a new student housing facility adjacent to St. Augustine University Parish in Platteville recently opened near the UW-Platteville campus in time for the new school year. (Contributed photo)

PLATTEVILLE — It’s not uncommon for people helping college-aged young adults to say, “Our goal is to have people find out who they are.”

When those words come from a property management president like Bill Levy from BMOC, Inc., you know there is something special he’s talking about.

The “something special” is Newman Heights, a recently opened 144-bed student housing complex near the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Platteville campus and adjacent to St. Augustine University Parish.

Need for housing

St. Augustine Parochial Administrator Fr. John Del Priore, SJS, said the project began after he talked with UW-Platteville students who expressed a “need for a place they felt safe, a place they could flourish as Catholic students.”

He said they weren’t “comfortable” in other housing options they had on or near campus.

The eventual plan was to buy four houses that were on the same block as St. Augustine Church and then raze them, making way for a new student housing complex.

Tri North Builders in Fitchburg was contracted to design the building, made of stone, “done in a Gothic style,” said Architect Steve Harms.

“When you see it, it’s like wow,” Harms added.

Levy said a sense of “freedom” would exist at Newman Heights.

“The beautiful thing is that freedom to be able to really kind of be who you are and feel like you have the freedom

to be who you are, and you’re not going to be judged,” he said.

Father Del Priore added that, “we welcome all students of all faiths” and the goal is to “create households,” which is a model used at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The “households,” or groups of students, will have a patron saint, along with prayer and service goals.

“The purpose is to build community and give positive reinforcement,” Father Del Priore said.

There is space in Newman Heights for Bible studies, larger group events, and some St. Augustine events such as Sunday Packers parties.

Students moving into Newman Heights received a welcome package with information on what’s available at St. Augustine.

“It’s literally within feet of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Father Del Priore, with Eucharistic Adoration being held at St. Augustine Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The welcome package also included information and times for Masses and Confessions.

Newman Heights itself has a “a visible presence of Christianity.”

Along with holy images and crucifixes, Father Del Priore said holy medals were placed in the drywall and on the sidewalks outside the structure.

Contact information for priests and campus ministers is also available, so “if they’re in a good place, or bad place, or just want to chat,” there will be someone to talk to.

Some of the students who moved into Newman Heights are already involved at St. Augustine and already lead Bible studies and other activities.

Father Del Priore hopes other established student groups on campus will also take up residence and “grow spiritually, as well.”

Life in Newman Heights

Levy called Newman Heights “purpose-built student housing,” adding, “this is going to be dedicated to students.”

One aspect students and parents will both like is that each individual student is responsible for their own part of the rent. Leases are not combined with all of the students living in the same apartment.

Most of the apartments are four-bedroom, with some two-bedroom and studio efficiencies available.

Each apartment has its own refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, oven, washing machine, and dryer.

Along with the perks of each bed having a memory foam mattress, in the four-bedroom apartments, there are two bathrooms and “game height” TVs.

The living rooms are not “massive” by design because, as Levy put, they’re not for having parties there.

The three-floor, 50,000 square feet large building also has underground parking available for 35 cars.

There are also a fitness room, PC labs, and study rooms on every floor.

The building’s design encourages students to “come out and interact with the other students,” Levy said, noting in most of his housing buildings, “I try to get the students to interact with each other” and “become a community”.

Security is also a priority with key fob entry, and security cameras at the building entrance.

Father Del Priore said the building will have some rules the students need to adhere to, but they don’t want to be policing anyone.

“The biggest requirement is just that they live up to the code of conduct of the university,” said Levy.

Spiritual living

A main spiritual goal of Newman Heights is “to encourage a positive atmosphere,” said Father Del Priore.

According to the parish, students involved in a faith-based organization have a higher retention rate in college as well as a higher grade point average than those who are not involved in a campus ministry program.

“We built it with the idea of having the best product for the kids,” said Father Del Priore.

He added they “really made an effort to make it great for the students

. . . we wanted for them to be honored” and “show them that there’s beauty in their lives and that they’re honored as men and women of God.”

Looking to the future

The building is not done at St. Augustine.

Next up is a new church building, which, as a project, is in its early stages.

The new church, when built on the current property, will not only be larger, but will house the Newman Center, near campus, as well.

The need for a larger St. Augustine building was brought on by a larger community growing at the parish.

In addition to a priest and an office manager, there are also four campus ministers, four FOCUS missionaries, and four development staff.

For more information on Newman Heights go to its website at www.newmanheights.com

For more information on St. Augustine University Parish, go to pioneercatholic.org

 
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