University of Kentucky moves forward with 3 more dorms holding 1,610 beds

Construction continues on the University of Kentucky's Woodland Glen residence hall on the site of the former Cooperstown dorm complex. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
Construction continues on the University of Kentucky's Woodland Glen residence hall on the site of the former Cooperstown dorm complex. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved the next phase of new dorm construction on campus Tuesday, allowing UK to move forward with three new dorms at the old Cooperstown complex near W.T. Young Library.

The residence halls are the latest fruit of UK's partnership with a private developer, Education Realty Trust. In this phase of the partnership, Education Realty Trust (EdR) will put up $101.2 million in equity for the construction of 1,610 student beds, several classrooms and study spaces.

The board approved the measure without discussion. The university already has approved seven other new residence halls since Feb. 2012 with 2,982 beds, bringing the total cost of the partnership to $264 million.

Overall, plans for 10 new dorms are under way:

■ Central I and II residence halls will have 601 beds when they open in August. The $25.2 million project was built mostly for honors students on a former field near W.T. Young Library.

■ Five residence halls — including Haggin Hall, which will be demolished and rebuilt on the same spot — are scheduled to open in the fall of 2014. Champions Court I and II are under construction on a former parking lot next to Memorial Coliseum. Woodland Glen I and II are under construction in the former Cooperstown housing complex, next to W.T. Young Library. The dorms cost a combined $138 million and will have 2,381 beds.

■ The three dorms approved Tuesday will also be built on the site of the former Cooperstown complex. They are scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

Another phase of the partnership is planned but has not yet been approved. It is expected to involve the current Kirwan Blanding complex, but UK officials haven't decided whether they will tear down the residence towers or do some combination of renovation and new construction.

EdR will seek LEED-Silver certification for energy savings on all the buildings.

UK is signing long-term leases with EdR, which will operate and maintain the buildings for 75 years. The rental rates will be the same as UK's "premium" dorm rates, currently between $3,000 and $4,000 a semester. Once the dorms open, UK will receive on average 14 percent of EdR's gross revenue. After EdR starts to receive a 9 percent rate of return, UK is to get 25 percent of the net income. At the same time, EdR would get a 2 percent management fee from UK.

"This public private partnership has allowed the university to fulfill our promise of modern student housing in an astoundingly brief time frame while also reserving our debt capacity for other projects to modernize our classrooms," Capilouto said.

The board also approved other changes to campus related to the new Woodland Glen housing complex.

First, it authorized spending $2.3 million to build a road that will go around the new housing complex, passing by several athletics facilities and crossing Cooper Drive before emptying onto Alumni Drive.

Second, it approved a $1 million lease with the University of Kentucky Courtyard apartment complex to provide housing for graduate students displaced by demolition of the old Cooperstown dorms. The lease provides 196 beds for one year. The apartments are a mix of two- and four-bedroom units on Red Mile Road.

In other news, the board authorized the purchase of Lexington Theological Seminary's 7.1-acre campus for $13.5 million. Located on South Limestone across from the main UK campus, the complex will be used as overflow space for UK.

Eric Monday, vice president for finance and administration, said the property had four appraisals, which ranged from $11 million to $16 million.

"This is a very opportunistic purchase for the University of Kentucky," finance committee chairman James Stuckert said.