According to Daniel Alfonso, vice president of facilities management, on April 6, NSU will break ground on a new undergraduate residential building estimated to cost $80 million.
The housing unit will be located near the Leo Goodwin residence hall, in the place of the practice soccer field.
Aarika Camp, associate dean of student services and director of Residential Life and Housing, said that, provided no major issues arise, the residence hall will be completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester and will hold an estimated 500-600 units.
“We have completed the design work and architecture for the building,” said Camp. “Construction is scheduled to start this spring … that is, avoiding any major issues.”
Alfonso said that NSU is in the process of finalizing permits to begin construction on the property.
“As you can imagine, closing a contract that’s worth $80 million comes with a lot of crossing ‘T’s and dotting ‘I’s,” said Alfonso. “We are at a point where we are supposed to break ground on April 6. That is what we’re shooting for because if we break ground on April 6, [the residence hall is] supposed to be completed by the beginning of August so that we can move in that class of 2019 students.”
After NSU admitted its largest class of incoming students for the fall 2017 semester, and experiencing a “housing crunch,” NSU began to make plans and implement changes in efforts to house current and future students.
Most recently on Feb. 23, NSU announced that graduate students living in the Rolling Hills apartments would have to relocate to off-campus housing to make room for students in the 2018-2019 year. NSU’s residential upperclassmen would be permitted to live in the Rolling Hills apartments for that duration. According to Alfonso and Camp, housing models will return to normal after the new hall is built.
“Rolling Hills will return to a graduate hall and the new building will be for upperclass students,” said Camp.
The residence hall will feature 423-square foot studios, 575-square foot one-bedroom apartments, 798-square foot two bedroom units and 1295-square foot four-person units complete with two bathrooms and a common area.
Alfonso stated that, for the first time, NSU will participate in what is known as a “3P,” with a real estate company called Rise that is based in Atlanta. He explained that a “3P” is a public-private partnership which allows a company to build a residential facility and then manage the day-to-day operations upon its completion.
“They are going to manage and operate the day-to-day, whereas right now we’re managing and operating the day to day; so, it’s going to be a little different,” said Alfonso. “Basically we will become, in effect, tenants for a long period of time.”
He adds that many factors went into the decision process, but stated that one of the reasons why NSU decided to enter into a “3P-agreement” was based on finances.
“It’s an $80 million project so the university is attempting to allow for that construction to happen, while at the same time maintaining its ability to finance other projects because we’re also looking to expand the Health Professions Division, etc.,” said Alfonso. “So, that’s why we’re entering into this private partnership where the private partner owns and operates campus housing which allows the university to focus its resources in other areas that also need growth.”
According to Alfonso, whether this model will be used more in the future will depend on the success of the new residential building.
“This is a first time so we’ll see how this goes and if it’s successful, then it may be a model that we continue to follow in the future,” said Alfonso. “And if not, then it will be a one-time shot.”
Additionally, NSU has begun making plans to construct a 1300-space parking structure near the future residence hall. According to Alfonso, since the construction of the parking garage will remove surface parking in the area, a temporary parking lot will be erected on the lot facing the Shark Athletics Building.
“It’s a sizable parking garage. I think it’ll rival the west parking garage. Though actually it might be a little bigger because I don’t think the other parking garage has 1200 spaces,” said Alfonso.
“Initially, we think the 1300 parking spaces will be more than what’s needed for the level of residences that we have right now so we may, in the near term, allow for some parking during things like sporting events,” said Alfonso. “I think eventually, if the President’s vision for 2020 bears out, there’s going to be more residential facilities coming so I told him, the President, yesterday [Feb. 27] that those 1300 parking spaces are going to be all students.”
Alfonso also stated that President Hanbury has requested that the parking structure be made “smarter” with the use of technology which can display parking space availability. Whether the technology will be patterned after most advanced models like those at Sawgrass Mall or the Fort Lauderdale International Airport which can locate lost cars or highlight locations of empty spaces will depend on practicality and financing, according to Alfonso. Eventually, the goal will be to update all of NSU’s parking structures.
“We have all levels of capability and we’ve talked to a number of companies already,” said Alfonso. “We’re going to go to the president with some options. My goal is to keep it functional and affordable.”