USF Housing Village Gets State Approval

Nov 7, 2015

UPDATED 11/7/15 10 A.M. with video of President Genshaft's statement on the Board of Governor's approval of the USF housing village

By this time in 2018,  the University of South Florida's fifty-plus year old Andros housing complex will be no more.

In its place will stand a brand new housing village, complete with retail spaces, outdoor pool and fitness center, a dining facility and more than 2,000 student beds.

On Thursday, the Florida Board of Governors approved a public-private partnership (P3) between USF and developer Capstone-Harrison Street to build the estimated $133 million dollar village. It's the largest P3 in the history of the State University System and the largest housing project ever approved by the Board.

The new complex will have 2,171 beds. That's an increase of 1,132 beds over Andros' current offerings, raising the total number of beds on the Tampa campus to almost 6,500.

Capstone-Harrison Street, LLC is a partnership of Capstone Development Partners, LLC, and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital.

Capstone specializes in student housing developments, with projects at University of Florida, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of West Florida. Harrison Street is a real estate private equity firm.

USF officials feel the project will help the school attract and keep students.

“This new residential village will be transformative for the University of South Florida,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said. “The approval by the Board of Governors will not only provide much needed housing opportunities to our students, but it will also bolster our foundation of student success that will help generations of students thrive.”

"We feel strongly that it enhances the student experience and adds to student success, which is showing up in our results when we look at graduation rates, retention rates and attracting some of the very best and brightest," Brian Lamb, Vice Chairman of the USF Board of Trustees, added.

Lamb also said that the P3 arrangement allows the university to offer the new rooms at a price near that of existing housing.

"The rates for those comparable projects will be the same, so we're actually very excited that we're going to be able to maintain affordability to our students through this process," Lamb said.

But the key word appears to be "comparable."

While the current Andros rooms cost $2,200 a semester, they offer accommodations that could be characterized as spartan, with two students to a room and eight sharing a bathroom.

The Tampa Tribune broke the costs down further:

Rooms in Juniper-Poplar Hall, built in 2009 with shops and other amenities, cost $2,826 to $3,300 a semester, and the two bedroom apartment-style Holly dorms cost $3,620 a semester.

Brian Lamb...said rent in the new dorms will not exceed the most expensive rooms currently on campus. Early projections say rooms could cost $3,395 to $4,595 a semester.

Under terms of the agreement, Capstone-Harrison Street will be responsible for financing, building and operating the village. In return, it will receive the rent from the students. USF will lease the land to Capstone-Harrison and receive $317 million over 52 years.

Demolition of the first four Andros buildings will begin in May 2016, followed by the other five in May 2017. The project is expected to be completed in June 2018.

An on-campus Publix supermarket is part of the project but needs to receive approval separate from the village. The Board of Governors will take up that proposal at its January 2016 meeting in Tallahassee.