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UW Explores Apartment Options

November 20, 2009

The University of Wyoming is exploring a public-private partnership to construct and manage a proposed new housing venture to replace apartments targeted for demolition.

UW trustees today (Friday) approved a request for proposals (RFP) to explore public-private options to construct student resident facilities on UW's east campus.

"The RFP process does not commit UW to a particular course of action at this time, but it will provide alternatives for further consideration with the board," says Douglas Vinzant, UW vice president for administration.

The proposal follows recommendations by two consulting groups, Ira Fink and Associates in 2001-2002, and the Scion Group earlier this year as part of the Long Range Development Plan, that UW consider additional campus living options. Vinzant noted that developers suggest it would take approximately 300 beds to make the project feasible.

Studies show more than 200 such projects have been developed across the country since the mid-1990s. A typical model involves the university working with a foundation. The university establishes a ground lease for the property and the foundation secures financing for the project. The developer builds the project. The foundation contracts with the developer, the university, or an outside third party to manage the project.

"The partnership structure offers revenue opportunities to the university through ground lease revenues and the potential sharing of proceeds while also allowing oversight of the development," Vinzant said. "In addition, it allows the university to reserve its debt capacity for other improvements that are needed in our residential facilities."

UW manages nearly 600 apartments in four complexes that range in age from 15-60 years. Nearly 45 percent of them are in the Summit View complex, the one-story apartments located immediately to the north of the University Plaza. These apartments are the oldest housing on campus and have outlived their useful lives. The 265 Summit View apartments are scheduled to be removed by January 2011, and UW plans to build the new housing in a portion of the same area.

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