College building $6M dorms


The Panther Ridge dorm is near the main campus. Courtesy Davenport University

A local college is constructing two apartment-style residential buildings in response to increased demand for on-campus housing.

Davenport University said last week construction is underway on two buildings at the Panther Ridge housing complex in Grand Rapids, at 5465 60th St. SE, adjacent to its W.A. Lettinga main campus.

The $6-million project, which broke ground in February, will be finished in time for fall 2017 classes.

The two three-story buildings comprise 23,000 square feet each and will contain 18 suites per building, housing up to 130 students total.

The Panther Ridge site currently has one building. The new construction will bring the total number of beds in the complex up to 194.

“We are continuing to attract increasing numbers of new, traditional students who desire the full residential campus life experience,” said Rick Pappas, president, Davenport University. “Expansion of Panther Ridge helps us to accommodate this growth.”

Panther Ridge connects to the W.A. Lettinga campus via a paved walkway along Kraft Avenue, which the college will extend down to 60th Street to a second entrance at the complex.

The Panther Ridge apartments will be suite style, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms per suite, as well as a shared living room, kitchen and washer and dryer.

One of the two new buildings will include a community room for use by all Panther Ridge residents.

Panther Ridge will be reserved for upper classmen. All incoming freshmen are placed in South Hall, Davenport’s largest residence building.

Davenport also has another apartment-style complex, Panther Woods, about a mile away from campus on 68th Street SE, which houses 178 students.

Between Panther Ridge, Panther Woods and the W.A. Lettinga campus, the university will reach a residential capacity of 932 students by this fall. This includes 72 double-occupancy rooms in some of the main campus residence halls, which allow the college to reduce room rates and increase capacity.


The $6-million project will be funded from the college’s operations budget and revenue generated from housing.

“It is treated similarly to our other housing, with the only difference that we do not own the facility and will lease the space” from a development partnership led by Bill Lettinga Jr., said Mike Volk, EVP and CFO, Davenport University.

Firms on the project

Grand Rapids-based Integrated Architecture is the project’s architect and interior designer.

Grand Rapids-based Wolverine Building Group is the contractor.


Founded in 1866, Davenport University is a private, nonprofit university serving nearly 8,000 students at campuses across Michigan and online.

The college offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs.

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