HASTINGS, Neb. – Hastings College has begun expanding, which has been a long time coming.

The four current residence halls plus the campus apartment complex have looked the same for more than a decade, and some for two decades.

"I've been with the college for five years, and on some scale we've been talking about how to make a new residence hall happen the entire time." said Hastings College CFO Stephanie Ourada.

With a need to modernize on campus living options, Hastings College has begun to renovate some of the Bronco Village Apartments this summer, and will also make smaller upgrades to the student union and other student buildings over the next year.

"We're really just trying to modernize what's available to students in those common spaces, and make them more student-friendly." said Ourada. "

The biggest project the college plans to tackle over the next two years is a new 320-bed residence hall.

Next to an empty lot at the corner of N Ash Ave and E 9th St. is Weyer Hall, which was closed in 2022.

It along with several houses on the other side of the empty lot on Pine Knoll Rd will be demolished to make room for the new 136,000 square foot residence hall which is expected to break ground on in the fall.

Hastings College students are required to live on campus freshman through junior year unless they live in town or nearby, causing the need to expand.

"Last August we were in the high 90's for percent occupancy on campus," said Ourada. "We've even had to rearrange how we house in our apartments and other places like that. We are very full, we're just seeing a lot more students who want to live on campus."

The expected cost of the new residence hall is around $40 million dollars, and the college received a grant from the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation to help fund the project. It and other campus renovations are expected to be completed by 2026.

"We've moved pretty quickly on design, and it just feels great to accomplish something we weren't sure would be possible a couple of years ago." said Ourada.