Georgia State to build new student housing facilities

The Gourmet Services space located on Piedmont Avenue is an area the university is looking to have their plot mapped on. Photo by Nadia Deljou | The Signal

A number of student housing applicants were on a wait list at Georgia State this academic year, but in the near future there may be a solution.

Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Jerry Rackliffe said Georgia State and the Board of Regents have moved forward with plans to build new student housing facilities for the university.

He also said one of the possible areas for the new housing will replace the Sculpture building located at Edgewood Avenue and Piedmont Avenue. The others would be at 82 Piedmont Ave. and 121-125 John Wesley Dobbs Ave.

Rackliffe projects the facilities will be ready for occupancy within the next two years.

Why new student housing?

There are over 25,000 undergraduates at Georgia State and 800 wait-listed students for fall 2014 student housing, according to Rackliffe.

Rackliffe said the growing freshman class, a move to increase Georgia State’s traditionalism, and the decreasing number of commuter students have contributed to a growing number of housing applicants.

Kailaa Johnson, sophomore psychology major, said Georgia State does need new dorms because of wait lists this semester.

“I wasn’t on the wait list but still I knew people who were on the wait list,” she said.

Johnson also said the new dorms would be ideal for upcoming freshman students.

“It could be for freshmen because they are just going into college and they do not know what things are supposed to be like,” she said. “The upperclassmen should be in the Commons and Lofts and maybe Piedmont. But Piedmont is still a traditional dorm style.”

John Millsaps, Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications at the University System of Georgia, also said the authorization for the purchase of Piedmont Avenue and John Wesley Dobbs was due to Georgia State’s significant demand for housing.

“We continue to grow, and we continue to grow each year,” Rackliffe said. “So it’s getting bigger and better than ever, and with it, we are finding that we are needing more housing.”

The university’s housing facilities have 4,200 beds in all. One 12 Courtland, a privately owned housing facility near campus, has 700-800 beds, accumulating to 5,000 beds near campus, according to Rackliffe.

How the housing facilities will be funded

Rackliffe said the Board of Regents has a new model for student housing called a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The university would not issue any debt for the project. The model and the debt would be the state’s responsibility.

The vendor would build, maintain and furnish new housing facilities with their own funds, according to Rackliffe.

“We keep doing the billing and collection because we don’t want students to have to deal with multiple people,” he said.

Millsaps said the three vendors being considered to construct the new student housing facilities are Balfour Beatty, Corvias and EdR.

About the vendors

Balfour Beatty is a worldwide infrastructure group who constructs and maintenance infrastructure assets, according to their website.

Corvias, a privately-owned group of companies, has done public-private partnerships before and has in-house expertise on large-scale residence hall construction, according to the Corvias website.

EdR, a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust, has an on-campus housing revitalization program at the University of Kentucky, according to the EdR website.

The vendor will be repaid by a rate of return from students’ rent and bonds issued through Georgia State. There will also be caps set on how much the vendor can increase student housing cost yearly, Rackliffe said.

“We don’t want it where this developer comes in here and builds something and starts raising the rents up really high and trying to get extra money out of our students,” he said. “So, in the agreement there is going to be rental caps where they are only allowed to increase it by a certain percentage each year. They have to do that in negotiation with the Board of Regents.”

Rackliffe said The Board of Regents will decide on a vendor around November.

What to expect from the new dorms

Georgia State has requested for the vendor to build student housing similar to Patton Hall.

“With Patton Hall and Piedmont North you are able to get a room and a meal plan for the same price as getting a room with a kitchen in the Commons,” Rackliffe said. “So, a lot of students like that. So we are trying to give more students that option.”

Students also expressed how much they liked Patton Hall’s features in a survey, according to Rackliffe.

Georgia State’s housing website states Patton Hall can house 325 residents. In a suite, two residents stay in a double occupancy room and share a conjoined bathroom with another single occupancy student.

Millsaps said the university has an overall target to add 1,000 beds into their master plan for new housing facilities.

Retail, such as a dining hall, may be possible on the new housing facility’s bottom floor.

“Right now we have about 2,500 students on the meal plan, and it’s getting really packed,” Rackliffe said. “If we add another 700 up to 1,000 beds, we would probably need more capacity. So, that is something else we would have to look at.”

Georgia State will have to reach an agreement with the vendor because they will be investing their own money into the project, according to Rackliffe.

He also said vendors have also suggested completing the housing units one at a time.

“Because it is easier obviously to create one building than two buildings,” Rackliffe said. “That detail has to be worked out over the next two months,”

Demolition and site preparation need to be preformed prior to the commencement of construction, according to Millsaps.

How the new dorms will affect Georgia State’s services

The Panther Shuttle route runs on Piedmont Avenue where both possible new student housing facilities will be located nearby.

“They would just walk across the street to the Commons and get on the shuttle there if they wanted to,” Rackliffe said.

Georgia State also already has a security guard on duty at the crosswalk between the Commons and Piedmont after 5 p.m.

The new housing also means a need for more resident sssistants.

“Marilyn, in charge of housing, likes to have an R.A. on each floor. So whichever housing we build, we will continue that,” Rackliffe said.

Student life personnel and security would also need to be hired and paid through student’s housing rent, according to Rackliffe.

Georgia State may also have to create more parking along with new housing. Rackliffe said he could use some of the 100 Auburn Ave. parking lot, and possibly add another level to the existing parking lot behind the housing’s property.

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