Private developers could lease the University of Kentucky's Haggin Field for 50 years under a request for proposal issued by UK on Wednesday to build a $30 million, 600-bed residence hall.
The developer would build and own the dorm, and receive rent from students. The developer also would have to pay UK $5.3 million over 11 years to help pay off UK's debt on other residence halls.
When the ground lease expires, UK would have the option to buy the building.
The request for proposal came two days after UK President Eli Capilouto announced an ambitious plan to improve and expand student housing at UK. In addition to the new dorm, which is scheduled to open in 2013, he outlined new housing that would replace roughly 4,000 of the school's 5,184 beds and create 4,000 more during the next decade. Only 684 of UK's existing dorm beds are in buildings considered modern.
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The overall price tag will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, Capilouto wants to find an additional $400 million to $500 million for new classroom, research and student support space that would upgrade UK's aging facilities.
This is the first time UK has worked with private developers to build residence halls on campus, although many other schools, such as the University of Louisville, have worked with the private sector to provide students housing.
Given the economy, UK officials doubt there will be state money to pay for new dorms.
"Generally, it's preferable for any public entity to issue its own debt, but given the financial times and condition of our housing, this is the only way to do it," said Bill Harris, UK's director of purchasing.
UK will hold a pre-proposal meeting for interested parties on Thursday. One part of the process is to negotiate costs, such as how much students would have to pay for rent.
"We wouldn't enter into this if we felt it wasn't financially fair to the students," Harris said.
In a second phase of the request for proposal, UK and the developer could work out options to build more residence halls.
Harris said UK sent the request for proposal to a list of developers who specialize in university housing. In addition, the document is on UK's Web site at Uky.edu/Purchasing/uk-1122-12.pdf.