Appalachian State cuts innovative deal for new campus housing

 In April 2019

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Business North Carolina

Eggers Hall is among seven dorms that are being torn down to make room for new housing.

To speed construction of new student housing, Appalachian State University negotiated a $191 million public-private partnership. Funding was finalized in mid-March for a 2,100-bed, four-building project to replace seven aging residence halls. A 475-space parking deck is also planned at the Boone campus.

Key partners in the effort are Valdosta, Ga.-based developer Rise Real Estate Company, which specializes in university housing, and Willow Street, Pa.-based Beyond Owners Group, a nonprofit financial consulting firm specializing in similar partnerships. Both were selected after a competitive bidding process in May 2018. A nonprofit special-purpose entity will own most of the property and lease the land from ASU under a long-term contract. Financing will come from private investment and university bond funds.

The university had estimated replacing the aging dorms would have cost $255 million without the private sector’s involvement. The savings stem from “a faster, more efficient construction process,” university spokeswoman Megan Hayes says.

The developers will be responsible for any cost overruns. If estimated building openings in 2020, 2021 and 2022 are late, Rise is required to provide temporary housing.

Atlanta-based Choate Construction is the general contractor, while Niles Bolton Associates of Atlanta and Jenkins-Peer Architects of Charlotte are the designers.

The UNC System allows public-private partnerships when individual campuses have designation as a Millennial Campus, which enables the issuing of special bonds to pay for projects. ASU gained the designation in 2016, covering about 88 acres of the campus including Kidd Brewer Stadium.

One thing that ASU isn’t outsourcing: It retains responsibility for overseeing students in the new housing. The university reported record enrollment of 19,108 last fall, including 4,723 first-year and new transfer students. That’s a 13% increase, or 2,100 additional students, since 2009.

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