Morgan State University students are expected to gain a new off-campus housing option by fall 2025 to combat campus housing shortages.

Community stakeholders gathered Tuesday at the completed bare-bones structure of the housing unit to celebrate what President David Wilson calls “the first off-campus housing development that has ever been built with Morgan in mind.”

The 3.3-acre building marks the latest effort from Morgan State leaders to reduce housing issues caused by a rapidly-growing student body.

“Morgan is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing institutions right now in our state,” said President David Wilson. “We cannot accept any more students, we have reached capacity. We expect that this fall of 2024 we will have somewhere between 10,400 to 10,600 students. That is 3,000 students more than we had five years ago.”

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The university has been leasing local hotels in recent years as an overflow option — including a new partnership this year that added spots for 350 students. The new development will house approximately 473.

“As it stands now, we have students all the way from downtown Baltimore to downtown Towson,” Wilson told WYPR. “This development is only five minutes from the campus. And it will enable students to experience Morgan in the way in which we want them to. They don’t have to leave early; they can come to extracurricular activities, and get in the rhythm of what college life should be about.”

Wilson said the goal is to have enough space immediately on-campus to house all freshmen. That means the new building will primarily host upperclassmen and graduate students.

“And what is exciting about the potential that we will lease the entire project is that our students will be able to use their financial aid to help them with their costs,” Wilson added. “The students would not have to go and engage in an individual lease. And believe it or not, that goes a long way in helping students afford housing.”

MCB Real Estate is the leading organization on the project. In a press release, the company said students will have access to “first-class amenities” like a fitness center, game room, and outdoor courtyard.

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David Bramble, a managing partner and cofounder of MCB, said the new building is about investing in community.

“This particular project we started about three years ago. I bet most people didn’t realize that sitting behind this dilapidated car dealership was all this vacant land,” Bramble said at Thursday’s ceremony. “It’s kind of a metaphor for Baltimore. There’s so much to do in this town, so many exciting things, so many ways for us to advance our community. Sometimes you gotta peel back the onion to see the opportunities.”

The building will also be named after Morgan State alum Enolia Pettigen McMillan. She was the first Black woman to lead a Maryland high school and the first woman to head Baltimore’s NAACP. She died in 2006 at 102-years-old.

McMillan’s granddaughter, Tiffany McMillan Mfume, said her grandmother often invited people to stay in her house and hotel rooms – and that being the Enolia building’s namesake would have “put a smile on her face.”

McMillan’s family members signed two steel beams at the construction site Thursday. All speakers and attendees were encouraged to do the same.

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Wells Fargo Bank and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development each donated one-million-dollar grants to the project. But MCB isn’t disclosing the total tab yet.

WYPR is a media partner of The Baltimore Banner.