University of Kentucky trustees are set to approve the fifth phase of new, privately funded student housing on campus, this time for upperclassmen and graduate students.
The $74 million University Flats project will consist of two buildings of apartments and studios that will face University Drive and back up to the Kirwan-Blanding towers. It is scheduled to open in fall 2017.
The project will be funded and built by EdR, a Memphis-based campus housing company that is responsible for $422.3 million in construction aimed at replacing and updating UK's aging housing stock.
The terms between EdR and UK for University Flats are the same as those for the other 12 residence halls that have been built or are under construction by EdR. The company will have a 75-year lease and collect rent, paying back some of it to UK after meeting profit thresholds. For example, EdR receives a 2 percent management fee for operating the buildings. After EdR receives a 9 percent rate of return from rents, UK receives 25 percent of the net income.
But because UK owns the building, EdR does not have to pay property taxes under a special agreement set up by the state revenue department.
UK manages all residence life services.
By fall, the partnership will have provided 4,592 new beds, all of which are for freshman because of numerous studies that show living on campus improves retention and academic performance. Although UK does not require freshman to live on campus, about 88 percent choose to do so.
The vast majority of freshmen want to live in the new dorms. For every 100 new beds, there are 132 requests to fill them.
As more new dorms open this fall, UK is closing the two towers of the Kirwan-Blanding complex but will house about 600 students in the low-rise buildings that surround the towers. Those dorms are less expensive than the newer buildings but don't offer the same amenities, such as themed living spaces.
The University Flats project will be the first aimed at older students, which "does provide us with a continuum of opportunity for attracting our returning students," said Penny Cox, director of housing project implementation.
This project will include 771 beds in a mix of one-, two- and four-bedroom apartments, as well as studios. All the spaces include a kitchen. Costs range from $929 a month to $4,813 per student per semester.
Previously, UK's main area for graduate housing has been the Coop erstown complex, which was torn down in 2013 to make way for the new Woodland Glenn residence halls. At that time, UK leased 196 beds from the University of Kentucky Courtyard apartment complex on Red Mile Road to provide housing for displaced graduate students.
In addition, UK still owns three apartment complexes for graduate students and families: Shawneetown, Commonwealth Village and Greg Page Apartments, all of which are on or near Alumni Drive. UK also rents some housing at the recently purchased Lexington Theological Seminary. In total, that's about 558 beds. Long-term plans for those complexes have not been determined.
The new halls, which will bring more students with cars to central campus, will put pressure on the university's already tight parking. UK officials said students will continue to park at Commonwealth Stadium, but parking is being discussed as part of a transportation master plan.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the new construction at its regular meeting June 19.