OGDEN -- Khylee Betancourt, with a savvy beyond her tender years, scanned the sleek new desks and bunk beds, the open closet space and the plentiful natural lighting.
"I've lived my whole life in university residence halls," the 12-year-old said. "My mom works here, in the housing office, and I like this new dorm a lot."
Khylee and several dozen grown-ups attended a Wednesday afternoon open house to mark the completion of Residence Hall 3 in Wildcat Village. RH3 is the third and final building in the group to be completed. It's located in the spot formerly held by WSU's Promontory Tower hall.
"I like the kitchens. I like the volleyball court. I like that nature is all around and that there are so many places to study," said Khylee, who aspires to be in the college class of 2023. "It's very livable."
RH3 can house 500 students. At 25,270 square feet, it is the smallest of the three Wildcat Village buildings, which together comprise 172,150 square feet.
"We used to live off the lobby in Promontory Tower," said Khylee, who now lives at University Village with her family and who dreams of studying science and medicine. "With all the students going through, it was pretty noisy. I like how quiet this is. It would be a great place to study."
Braxton Green, 25 and a WSU communications major, dropped by to check out what he was missing.
"I lived in Promontory Tower my first year here," the Ogden man said. "I wish I could go back in time, but live here. It's not even comparable. This is top notch. It will be sweet, with so many places to hang out and feel like a member of a community."
RH3 features include an activity lounge with billiards, shuffleboard and television; laundry access with Web-access notification of availability; a fitness facility with cardio equipment and resistance machines; kitchenettes on hall floors, and gas grills outside. The energy-efficient building also has space for on-site lectures and tutoring. Students in each pod (defined as one wing of one of the three floors) share a large community bathroom and three small individual bathrooms.
The Wildcat Village food service facility is at Stewart Wasatch Hall, just across the grassy courtyard.
Wildcat Village was designed to foster community and to promote engagement for a well-rounded university experience, said Daniel Kilcrease, director of Housing and Residence Life.
"It really is a village," said Brett Perozzi, associate vice president for Student Affairs. "With the volleyball court, fire pits and grills, this is more than a place to do homework and sleep. It's a community."
Perozzi said students who lived in Promontory Tower offered lots of suggestions for layout improvements.
"They had to come out of their rooms to meet people and get to know the other students on their floor," he said. "In University Village, students said they got to know their roommates well, but not many of their neighbors. Many students want a more traditional college experience, and now we have residence halls that facilitate community building."
WSU President Chuck Wight gave the double room he visited his personal seal of approval.
"It's about 50 percent bigger than the double I had when I was in college," he said.
Double rooms are $3,150 per academic year at RH3, $126 cheaper than a double room in Residence Hall 1 or Stewart Wasatch Residence Hall. Single rooms in RH3 are $169 more per academic year than are singles in RH1 and Stewart Wasatch.
The relative bargain, a triple room, is available only at Residence Hall 3 and goes for $2,790 per academic year. In addition, all rooms at Wildcat Village require that students purchase a meal plan. Residents at University Village, located farther south, have no meal plan requirement.
"I wish I could have lived my first year someplace like this," said Green, now happy as an Ogden city renter. "Compared to Promontory Tower, with no working kitchens and white/gray walls, this place is modern and amazing."