By Michelle McManimon for Arizona Daily Sun
Northern Arizona University is planning to increase its on-campus housing.
On Thursday, June 4, the Arizona Board of Regents approved NAU’s fiscal 2016 Capital Development Plan. It contained only one new project: the construction of an apartment-style residence hall by American Campus Communities.
Under the plan, NAU will allow American Campus Communities to lease a parcel of land located near the Bilby Research Center and Gabaldon Hall on the south side of Runke Drive between South Knoles Drive and South San Francisco Street. American Campus Communities will use that parcel, which currently contains open space and two parking lots, to construct six apartment-style buildings and a four-story parking structure.
The project is being called the Runke Drive Student Apartments. According to the proposal submitted to ABOR, the project will add 620 beds on campus for upperclassmen, many of whom have been forced off campus by NAU’s multi-year boom in freshmen enrollment.
Construction of the new campus residence hall will not cost NAU any money. Instead, the proposed lease agreement calls for American Campus Communities to cover the entire $55M in projected construction costs, with 25 percent equity and 75 percent debt funding. American Campus Communities will also be responsible for maintaining and overseeing the facility. Students will pay rent to the company, which will, in turn, pay rent to NAU.
In addition to 620 beds, the Runke Drive project will have a landscaped courtyard, a lobby area, a social room, a game room, a computer lab, a mail area and a fitness center, plus enough parking for 706 vehicles.
The project still needs to get a favorable review by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Capital Review on June 18 before NAU and American Campus Communities will sign the lease. If that happens, construction is expected to begin in January 2016 and be completed by August 2017.
The Runke Drive Student Apartments is the only major construction project expected to break ground on the NAU campus during the 2015-16 academic year. In April, Cheng announced construction on a new Engineering Lab Building on south campus would be postponed due to state funding cuts.
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