Gonzaga University hopes the second time’s the charm for the Kennedy Apartments.
The $10 million complex is finally nearing its opening, a year after a still-unsolved arson fire destroyed the first attempt at construction. Now GU is getting ready to start showing off the new apartments, with an open house for the media scheduled today and students set to begin hauling in their belongings in a month.
“You don’t usually get to do them twice,” said Ken Sammons, director of plant and construction services for GU.
Sammons said bouncing back from the arson, which came as work on the complex was about three-quarters complete, became a kind of personal mission for Walker Construction and other contractors on the job.
“They had built something that was special, and someone took it away from them,” he said.
The five-story apartments are expected to house 225 upperclassmen in 75 units. Students will begin moving in May 14, right before the summer session opens. Over the summer there will likely be 50 or fewer students in the complex, but it’s expected to be full when fall classes begin, said Jill Yashinsky, who will be an in-house residence director at the apartments.
The 120,000-square-foot complex will have a parking garage as well as restaurant and retail space. The apartments themselves will be furnished, and students will share communal spaces and entries – something of a cross between the shared living arrangements of a residence hall and the independence of an apartment.
Yashinsky said students are particularly looking forward to having a restaurant-style facility, Duff’s Bistro, right in the complex. “They’re really excited about it,” she said. “They’re champing at the bit to get in there.”
The apartments are named in honor of Duff and Dorothy Kennedy. Duff is a Gonzaga trustee emeritus and former chair of the Board of Trustees.
Sammons said crews are putting the final touches on the project and moving in furniture.
“There are just little touchups here and there,” he said. “They’re working their way out the front door.”
The apartment design didn’t change after the March 2006 fire that destroyed most of the work, except for a concrete support deck that sits above the underground parking area and below the four floors of apartments.
Investigators said the fire had been started in several locations and was intentionally set. Part of their investigation was bolstered by photographs and videos of the fire taken by bystanders.