SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The University of Utah is aiming to make up ground on what it calls a “lack of on-campus and even near-campus student housing” by adding up to 5,000 new student housing units by 2030.
The effort to reportedly double its on-campus housing is an attempt to transform the campus by “turning a historically commuter campus into a campus community.”
John Creer, the University’s Chief Real Estate Officer, said the U of U is distinct across the county in that it doesn’t have sufficient housing on or near campus. The university said about 25% of students live on campus at most public universities across the United States, and additional housing has been built over time to keep up with rising enrollments.
As enrollment continues to grow at the University of Utah – projected to reach 40,000 over the next seven years – the U said it will need about 10,000 housing units to allow one of every four students to live on campus.
The U said many of its students have opted to live at home or rent some of the limited homes and apartment buildings in neighborhoods surrounding campus. As a result, housing development on campus has lagged. Though the campus has taken strides in addressing the problem already.
By fall 2023, the University will add over 930 beds in Kahlert Village and the University West Village. Privately owned and operated beds by the Ivory Foundation at the Ivory University House will also add over another 550 beds for students on campus. When the new Impact and Prosperity Epicenter completes in August 2024, there will be an added 775 housing units on campus.
“We know that students who live on campus have a vastly different college experience form those who do not,” said Chief Experience Officer Andrea Thomas. “Living on campus for just one year can boost everything from increased on-time graduation rates to a greater sense of belonging. New student housing is critical to our efforts to create that Utah Fresh first-year experience.”
Adding 5,000 student housing units to campus will be a costly undertaking according to University officials.
The University of Utah will reportedly begin working with a private company to help plan, build, operate, and finance the student housing units. Additionally, the U plans to request bonding authority from Utah lawmakers to finance 2,000 of the student housing units at a cost of up to $384 million.
According to the U, combining traditional bond financing with a public-private partnership will help maximize options for the University. Leaders at the university expect to pick consultants by the end of February with bids from potential private housing developers coming soon after.
Construction on the first new housing units is planned to begin in 2024 to be completed in 2026.