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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU seeks family, Greek housing contract partner

Exciting times are ahead for future residents of New Mexico State University?s Family Housing and Greek Housing units, as the university seeks a development partner or partners to fund, develop and build new housing on campus.

?About 15 years ago, private developers started to figure out that campus housing was an untapped market. Simultaneously, campuses were realizing they had a lot of aging housing facilities and the capital costs to replace them were really high,? said Julie Weber, NMSU director of housing and campus life.

A new model was then born in which private developers come on campus to help universities replace housing. Weber says the goal at NMSU is to keep the process transparent and as seamless as possible for the students.

?The piece that is so important for me, is that we don?t lose what university housing is all about ? contributing to the academic success of our students,? Weber said. ?I know the development companies also can do that, but I want to make sure that whatever partnership agreement we strike, that student success is first and foremost.?

The private development model can take many forms ? on some campuses, developers lease land from the institution and the developer owns and operates the building. On others, the developer fronts the capital and the university runs the facility, and then pays the developer a large portion of the rent. In some cases, the developer gets all of the rent, but pays the university a land lease for access to the property.

The model NMSU will follow has not yet been determined, but the first steps in exploring the options are happening now through a formal request for qualifications process, or RFQ. The RFQ has been released nationally to see what type of interest exists; the RFQ deadline is May 15.

?Family Housing, Monagle Hall and Greek Housing all need to be replaced, which is estimated to be about $120 million,? Weber said.

The proposed plan is to replace Monagle Hall on land adjacent to its existing location, and to relocate Greek Housing closer to University Avenue, in the vicinity of existing sorority houses there, so that all Greek Housing would be in one location.

Student family housing is probably the most challenging of these projects according to Weber, as most developers haven?t done family housing previously, or because it is not the most financially advantageous to developers because units cost so much to build, yet rents are very low ? and Weber wants to keep it affordable for NMSU?s Student Family Housing demographic.

?If our student families wanted to go live in an apartment, they could just go live in an apartment,? Weber said. ?There?s something that makes them want to live here, in our 60-year-old housing, and we believe part of that is that it?s a student community. There are services from the campus and they know they?re in an environment surrounded by hundreds of families facing the same challenges they are, and get support from the institution to be successful. We have to make sure that remains in the forefront no matter who our private development partner is.?

The process to find a development partner will include the RFQ process, followed by a full request for proposal. The RFP will be distributed around May 30, with a deadline of July 22.

?As the director of housing, I?m excited about this opportunity because without this, it would be difficult for us to upgrade our facilities to the level that our students deserve,? Weber said. ?We need to make sure that what we do fits for our campus and our population.?