SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) – Missouri State University plans to renovate two buildings with strong connections to Springfield’s history and then market them as housing for older students, who will be allowed to drink alcohol in the residences.

The university will spend $1.8 million to improve Kentwood Hall and another $1 million to renovate Sunvilla Tower, after the expense was approved last week by the executive committee of the Missouri State Board of Governors, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

Kentwood was built in 1926 and was once a premiere hotel, where Harry Truman and Groucho Marx stayed and then-Vice President Richard Nixon held a news conference during his first run for the presidency. The 19-story Sunvilla Tower, built in 1963, was once was one of the most sought-after apartment locations in Springfield.

The university bought the Kentwood in 1984 and has used it for student housing since then.

The Kentwood renovation is expected to be done this summer and will include new carpeting, plumbing repairs and increased fire protection.

“This will be a very nice upgrade of what is a mediocre, at best, facility,” said university President Clif Smart.

The renovation will reduce the available rooms at the Kentwood from 86 to about 78, and they will be marketed to transfer students, who are typically older, said Gary Stewart, director of residence life, housing and dining services.

The university bought the Sunvilla Tower in 1976 and offered its 89 one- and two-bedroom apartments as student housing. It will be closed during the 2014-15 school year for improvements that will include a new fire-suppression system, as well amenities such as new drapes, furniture and painting. That project should be done by August 2015, Stewart said.

The university currently offers only one housing facility where students 21 and older are allowed to drink alcohol.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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