Public-private partnership to provide new graduate student housing at University

Will meet increased need for graduate student and family housing on campus

3/1/2013 - By: Claudene Wharton
Grad housing

The ground lease has been approved for a public-private partnership that will result in 120 new living units on the University of Nevada, Reno campus next year to meet the needs of graduate students and students with families attending the University.

The lease agreement between the University and a private developer, Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, was approved March 1 by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. The University will lease the property to the company for 42 years, and over this period the company will finance, construct and own the approximately $20 million complex. At the end of the lease period, the University will own the complex.

The lease agreement enables the University to remain in control of the rules and regulations governing operations of the project, and also allows the University's Residential Life, Housing and Food Services to manage the complex. Particularly beneficial to the University and its students, under this lease agreement, the University incurs no debt for the project, nor is its bonding capacity negatively affected. Detailed operating and management agreements will be developed between Balfour Beatty and the University.

In requesting approval of the ground lease, University Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis explained that the current facility, built in 1960 for graduate students, has only 40, one-bedroom units, is out-of-date and does not meet the current needs of this student population.

Graduate student enrollment has increased considerably over the past 50 years, and there are more "nontraditional" students - students in their late 20s, 30s and 40s - who already have families. The new facility will better accommodate the needs of current students, as well as help make the campus more attractive to those considering pursuing their graduate education at the University, which now offers more than 90 graduate programs.

The new three-story "Graduate Family Student Apartment" complex will replace the current facility, University Village, at 1775 Evans St., just east of the Lombardi Recreation Building. The old building, which closes May 31, will be torn down, and the new complex will be constructed on the same site by July 2014. Current University Village residents interesting in returning as a resident in the new facility will be given priority.

The 120 units will provide 212 beds. Some units will be one-bedroom, one-bath, and others will be two-bedroom, two-bath. Each unit will have modern appliances, efficient cooling and heating systems, and washers and dryers - features that were absent in the old building. In addition, there will be a gated, secure courtyard for children's activities.

Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions was chosen through a formal Request for Qualification process in 2011. The nationally respected campus apartment developer has demonstrated long-term success in public-private partnerships, with more than 34,000 "multi-family" units and 250 higher education projects across the country. In addition, it has formed a working relationship with TNT Construction, Inc., a Reno company, and has agreed to use local contractors to construct the project, providing jobs and work for local contractors.

Balfour Beatty conducted a market study that showed that the one-bedroom units will likely rent for $825 per month and the two-bedroom units will rent for $1,126.

"Our graduate students and students with families have really been wanting more modern and appropriate housing," said Ellis. "We are very happy to have reached this win-win agreement with Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions and are grateful for the Regents' approval of the ground lease."


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