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Solin Hall closes Annex to accommodate surplus of rooms

Solin Hall’s Annex building is closed this year and will not house occupants.

The Hall, a former chocolate factory, is the most distant McGill residence, located four metro stops away from the downtown campus. With the closing of the Annex this year, about 40 spaces in the residence will be vacant. The residence comprises of 105 apartments, capable of housing a total of 280 students.

Solin Hall‘s Senior Administrative Coordinator Howard Zinman explained that Solin’s occupancy has only decreased slightly compared to previous years.

“There are currently 228 students in Solin, with a few extra who are delayed because of visa issues, making [the actual number] around 240,” Zinman said.

Last year, the residence served approximately 260 students.

Managing Director of Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) Janice Johnson explained that the reopening of Douglas Hall—closed last year due to renovations—led to a surplus of available rooms at McGill Residences. According to Johnson, this year, there were more rooms than applicants for residences.

“We knew occupancy would be down with Douglas Hall coming back into operation, but [we] budgeted accordingly,’’ she said.

Such finances influenced the decision to close the Annex, Johnson explained.

“Lower occupancy rates absolutely affect what we can offer students, the work we can do to maintain and upgrade our buildings, and the price we have to charge to students,” Johnson explained.  “For that reason, the decision to close the Annex and to place students in downtown residences was a strategic one.”

Johnson added that the vacancies at Solin Hall are not due to the residence being perceived as unpopular or too far away from campus.

“The fact of it being outside the bubble and offering a more independent lifestyle is its attraction for many,” she said.

On the other hand, Zinman was worried that the closing of the Annex may affect residence life at Solin Hall.

“[The Annex is a] vibrant community that offers a unique rez life experience,’’  Zinman said.

Hyon-Oung Moon, a floor follow at Solin Hall and a previous Solin Hall resident, agreed, saying that he felt the closing of the Annex would be a loss to the sense of community within the residence.

“With only 40 rooms, the small intimacy of the Annex created tight communities in the previous years and its non-opening will have an effect,” Moon said. “I do think that it will impact rez life, as a big part of Solin was the community in the Annex.”

However, Johnson also explained that the closure of the Annex will improve upon on some aspects of residence life.

“There is now a lower ratio of students to floor fellows,” she said. “[In addition], we [now] have more students than ever at Solin for whom it is one of their top choices and everyone is concentrated in one building, perhaps making for a more tightly knit community.”

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