UTRGV set to add new student housing, dining hall in Edinburg

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

For the first time in two decades, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is set on building a new residence hall along with a new dining hall on the Edinburg campus in efforts to keep up with student housing demands and add another layer to student life.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved construction of a new residence hall and dining hall in May.

Magdalena “Maggie” Hinojosa, senior vice president for Strategic Enrollment and Student Affairs, said that student housing on the Edinburg campus has been at capacity and the new facilities will help alleviate that.

“We have to turn the students away,” Hinojosa said. “We haven’t built a residence hall in over 20 years. Unity (Hall) is the last hall that was built and our request for living on campus is at 100% and of course our dining hall … we’ve outpaced its capacity. So, one of the things that we’re focused on is ensuring that our students have the same opportunities that they would have at other campuses.”

UTRGV had 31,931 students enrolled at UTRGV during the 2023-2024 academic year. Currently, UTRGV student housing has a capacity of 810 beds on the Edinburg campus and 296 beds on the Brownsville campus.

The new complex will be located at the intersection of North Sugar Road and West Van Week Street in the green space next to Heritage & Troxel Hall and across from Unity Hall and the UTRGV Village Apartments.

Projected to cost about $135.5 million, it is funded through the UT System’s Capital Investment program with construction costs of the new complex being repaid by UTRGV via auxiliary services revenues in compliance with state law, which prohibits funding from tuition or mandatory fees.

The complex features three buildings.

The residence hall is set to be separated into two connected buildings with one being four stories tall and the other five stories.

This rendering shows he planned new residence hall at UTRGV in Edinburg, which is projected to be around 141,000 square feet and have a capacity of 550 beds. (Courtesy: UTRGV)

Hinojosa said the two buildings will have over 141,000 square feet.

The residence hall offers double, single and premium single-bed units and will have a capacity of 550 beds.

She added that the residence hall includes study rooms and areas for students to gather.

“Every floor will have gathering spaces for students,” she said. “It’s not just a place for students to go to sleep. It’s also a space for students to interact and be able to collaborate, communicate and have study groups.”

Also in development is a housing scholarship that will have certain academic and enrollment requirements.

“We work really hard to keep our costs down to ensure that it is within a rate that is affordable to our students,” Hinojosa said. “With that said, of course this is a new building so just like when Unity (Hall) was built, the cost was more than Heritage & Troxel (Hall). So it is a valid assumption that a new building, the cost will be a bit more. What that is though, I don’t know at this point.”

This rendering shows the planned new dining hall at UTRGV in Edinburg that will be about 32,000 square feet and has a capacity to seat 500. (Courtesy: UTRGV)

Hinojosa added that in addition to the capacity for student housing, the facility adds more student life to the campus.

“In addition to having that (student life) connection, we know that retention rates and graduation rates of students who live on campus are higher and you can’t do that when you’re at capacity,” she said.

The third building of the complex is the new dining hall replacing the current UTRGV Dining Hall located across from the UTRGV University Center.

Hinojosa said the dining hall will have over 32,000 square feet and a capacity of seating 500.

Just like the current dining hall, the new one will be open to all UTRGV students, staff and faculty.

The start of construction is yet to be determined, but is anticipated to be completed in early 2027 with students expected to fill the new residence hall in the fall semester of that year.

“We won’t see the full impact until around Fall of 2027 … it’s just hard to tell at his point in time,” she said. “We know that we have students who want to live on campus but will it be 100%? I wish I had a crystal ball to be able to tell you what that number would be.”