BY JOSHUA CILIBERTI
It is the end of an era for an apartment complex named after a beloved university professor.
After 65 years of serving the university community, demolition of the Conover Apartments, located at the intersection of Amstel Avenue and South Main Street, is currently underway.
The Conover Apartments complex consisted of 16 two-bedroom and 32 one-bedroom apartments spread across two buildings. It served as on-campus housing for graduate students, students with families and those with disabilities.
It was permanently closed in Nov. 2018 as a result of maintenance issues.
“Total demolition should be approximately 8 weeks,” Peter Krawchyk, the university’s vice president of facilities, real estate and auxiliary services and university architect wrote in an email. “2 weeks per building for the actual building demolition [and] 2 additional weeks per building for the foundations, restoration, etc.”
The complex’s name recognizes Elisha Conover, who taught in the university’s ancient languages program from 1895 to 1937 and was known for his “kind heart, his easy grading and his devotion to the school,” according to a history book on the university written by the late historian and university professor John Munroe.
The demolition will leave the university with a 9.18-acre lot in a densely populated area of campus, steps away from the Roselle Center for the Arts, Amy DuPont Music Building and Alfred Lerner Hall.
“We are currently studying our strategic options,” Krawchyk wrote in an email when asked about the future of the site.
The project will be assigned to the campus master plan, which is currently highlighted by the construction of Building X along Delaware Avenue and the expansion of Quaesita Drake Hall on Academy Street.
In the campus master plan’s phase 3A summary, published in July 2019, the Conover Apartments are categorized under the “infill / redevelopment opportunities” section which highlights sites “currently underutilized with surface parking, outdated facilities, or areas where additional density could be achieved.”
Since the complex’s closure, the property temporarily served as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic along with, more recently, as a site for training exercises conducted by both the university’s police department and the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co.
The project is not anticipated to greatly impact pedestrians or vehicles passing through this section of campus as a secure fence surrounds the property.
Construction vehicles are able to enter and exit the property at the front side of the complex along Amstel Avenue near the Center for the Arts parking garage, frequented by many professors, commuter students and university visitors each day.
“Impacts to the students will include noise from construction equipment and potentially wet sidewalks because of the water being used onsite for dust control,” Krawchyk wrote in an email.