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Campus & Community

Oct. 14 ceremony dedicates Saint John’s on-campus townhomes, bridge

The dedication ceremony for Saint John’s University’s newly opened Saint Elizabeth Seton Townhomes and adjoining Nicol Bridge will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14.

“Many of us are familiar with the proverb ‘It takes a village,’ and that’s exactly what Saint John’s is creating,” said President Brian Bruess, who on July 1 became the first joint president of Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict. “We’re building a village in Flynntown, and these new facilities – Seton Townhomes and Nicol Bridge – are the cornerstones. It’s a bold step forward.”

“The buildings are beautiful. They’re beyond imagination. My friends love it,” added Saint John’s Student Senate President Durran Thompson. “I can already see the atmosphere change – it’s a breath of fresh air.”

The project, designed to dramatically expand and upgrade on-campus housing opportunities for Saint John’s upperclassmen, opened this semester. It consists of two apartment buildings near the shoreline of Stumpf Lake housing juniors and seniors and totaling just over 45,300 square feet.

All apartments are air-conditioned. Most house six students and include a living room, small kitchen area and two bedrooms on the first floor, with four bedrooms on the second. In each building, there is a community laundry and shared study room for group activity. Doors to the buildings open toward the McKeown Center, a community space built in 2009 where students can meet, study and host events.

“That concept of the village – that’s what we ultimately want to get to,” said Mike Connolly, SJU’s dean of students. “Saint John’s really values that important aspect of community, of learning how to live with others.”

Nicol bridge

The entire project is connected to the main campus by the newly-constructed Nicol Bridge, a 270-foot pedestrian bridge spanning Stumpf Lake west of the County Road 159 bridge.

Nicol Bridge, completed in summer 2022, is named after Tom Nicol, a Saint John’s alumnus and member of the Common Boards of Trustees at CSB and SJU, and his wife Elizabeth.

“To be a residential college you need an excellent experience. We started talking probably 5-6 years ago about the upperclassmen experience. I have always thought the bridge was a key component to the Flynntown Village project,” said Nicol, who has served Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s in a variety of board capacities since 2010.

“I feel it’s way more connected,” said Thompson, a senior from Nassau, Bahamas. “It’s so much more accessible. There are no words to describe how much we appreciate it that they offered this amount of funding for our institution. It means the world to a lot of students.”

Added Bruess: “It’s a bridge to something new and contemporary, something of deep interest to students. It’s also symbolic because the bridge suggests that our upperclass students are going somewhere.”

More housing projects are in the planning stage at Saint John’s, including work in the freshmen and sophomore housing area and projects that will have impact around campus.

“Housing is an important commodity, and we need to do our very best to keep up to date and show well in the marketplace,” Connolly said. “The housing market is competitive, so adding these new townhomes allows us to be on top of the market. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments.”

Added Nicol: “I think in the future there are other opportunities to enhance that Flynntown experience. But between the townhouses and the bridge, we’ve made a huge first step. It really is pretty amazing.”

That’s definitely how the project has been received among Saint John’s current students, prospective students and alumni.

“To have an attractive upperclass set of offerings allows us to remain competitive and allows families to see this progress. It’s absolutely a recruitment challenge opportunity,” Bruess said.

“I think it’s going to help Saint John’s with enrollment,” Thompson added. “This is going to give students an opportunity to be excited again, especially with a new joint president this year.

“Everything is new. Everything is changing. Everything is going in different new directions.”