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#liveatthefaU: Two New Student Housing Project Proposals



Hello again Owl Nation!

As you may remember, President Kelly recently talked about expanding the student housing opportunities from approximately 4,069 beds to 10,000 beds, as detailed in this Sun Sentinel report from November 2016. A short recap: there's a big demand for student housing and more housing improves both the college experience and the traffic issues surrounding campus.

This 10k bed number would cover student housing both on and off campus, although it's hard to know how many students are living off-campus; we do know there are roughly 900 beds in the three dedicated student housing complexes off 20th street - University Park has about 600, University View 165 beds, University Square 128 beds, per MHN - so with the ~4,100 on campus we can comfortably say ~5,000 students live on or near FAU.

That's about 16% of total FAU student population or, more precisely, about 20% of FAU's Boca campus population - a comparable percentage to some of the "bigger", "more traditional" schools like UF who has about 24% of their population on-campus (tell THAT to your Gator friends who think FAU is all commuter)

Anyway, the 4,069 students on campus now live among eight complexes: Algonquin, Indian River Towers, Heritage Park Towers, Glades Park Towers, Parliament Hall, the University Village Apartments, the Business Professional Women's Scholarship House, and of course the Innovation Village Apartments (IVAN and IVAS).

That means we need to add another 5,000 to ultimately get to our 10k number and of course that doesn't happen overnight. Student housing complexes tend to house around 100, 250, 600 or 1000 beds, and will be adjusted based upon demand.

I've recently read about two new on-campus student housing proposals. The first one you may have seen in yesterday's Palm Beach Post article HERE by FAU alum (and former editor-in-chief of the UP) Lulu Ramadan.

PROPOSAL #1: THE SOUTHEAST COMPLEX (not an official title)

As Lulu explains, a Miami developed known as The Related Group - the same group seeking to redevelop Boca Raton's Mizner Park amphitheater - pitched FAU on a $250M complex on the southeast side of campus (the area south of Parliament and south of UVA, see the article picture HERE) that would include a hotel, conference center, student housing and shops/restaurants.

This would accomplish two primary objectives that FAU is seeking: a hotel with conference center AND more student housing. President Kelly is on the record saying he would like a private developer to build future student housing, which makes sense, and this certainly fulfills that. FAU would have to pay for the conference center, but if it's making $34M from the deal, perhaps that could pay for it (or at least be a large chunk of it)

Moreover, the student housing would be mixed-use meaning apartments up top, stores down below. This is a national trend and it makes a lot of sense since the two parts complement each other. Students live above and get their needs taken care of below. Same concept as 20th Street and the forthcoming University Village on Spanish River. All three could complement each other and once all three are in play, you're talking about a whole new level of FAU experience.

I've been a proponent of this mixed-use idea for a long time anywhere near campus, so not surprisingly I think this is a HUGE opportunity for FAU to get what it wants and improve campus at the same time. From a student activity standpoint, the southeast side is completely dead. People jog past there. The flower garden, which could have been a really neat asset to the campus, has instead been mired in overgrowth and disrepair.

At various points these parcels were going to house the relocated Boca Raton Regional Hospital, or more student housing, but nothing ever came to be. And meanwhile, students without cars have found it difficult to find places to eat or things to do once campus shuts down at night. This complex could alleviate that problem since we haven't tried to capitalize on the strip across Glades east of University Commons to build more restaurants (I pitched it as "University Crossing") which would have allowed people in the main Housing Quad to walk across the street for reasonably priced food and hang out off but near campus.

Furthermore, our Innovation Village complex as a "hub of student life" with shops and restaurants never came to fruition, which is probably good for two reasons: 1) It gave us room to build the Schmidt Family Athletic Complex there, still in the "Design" phase but possibly getting an $800k turf field installed after the 2017 football season, pending Dr. Kelly's approval; and 2) UCF's Knights Plaza apparently ran into some issues with getting enough business because,  like ours would be, it was so deep in the middle of campus it was having a hard time bringing in non-university foot traffic to support the restaurants, etc.

Technically the Southeast Complex could have similar issues but it's at least closer to Glades Road. Some signage near the FAU sign and you're good.

This isn't a done deal yet. FAU has to evaluate the pitch, of course, and the city of Boca Raton would have to be involved since it affects them too. The upsides have been stated. The downside is: relocating owl burrow south of UVA, giving up a chunk of land to commercial purposes so you don't end up building a bunch of lecture halls or labs there, and of course convincing any of the NIMBYs of Boca that traffic won't explode on Glades Road. I definitely think it's worth it. We get two things we wanted to build anyway and we improve student life on-campus.

Maybe we could even get a Chipotle, Tijuana Flats, grocery store, bowling alley or even a Wawa out of this deal. Can you imagine?

I don't have any renderings for you but maybe it would look like Related Group's "CityPlace Doral" HERE.

THE OTHER PROPOSAL: Super-Gonq and Super-UVA

Those who have been reading the blog may remember me talking about Gonq "on the chopping block" HERE in a previous blog. Algonquin is the oldest remaining dorm on campus (1965) but it sits on some pretty prime real estate there on the Housing Quad, and Gonq offers a mere 95 beds which doesn't make it the most efficient use of space.

Back on October 25th of this year Dr. Corey King, VP of Student Affairs, presented a Housing Feasibility Study to the FAU Board of Trustees. Essentially FAU would release an Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) for a private developer to replace Algonquin with a 500-bed housing complex and replace University Village Apartments with a 1000-bed complex over the next 5-7 years.

Since Algonquin has 95 beds and the new complex has 500, you technically net 405 new beds there. Similarly, since UVA has 524 beds and the new complex would have 1,000 you'd net 476 beds there. Altogether that's 881 new beds, bringing your on-campus population to 4,981 with 900 off campus is 5881. The Southeast Complex would get you around 361 units, so just speculating here but let's say those are two bedroom units (probably a mix of 2 and 3s in reality) so that's 722, and 722 + 5,881 = 6,603. Then you can add in 560 beds from the forthcoming NW 5th Street Housing - listed as "In Process" (entitlements) as of Nov 2017 with the Boca Raton Planning & Zoning Board (PZB) - and you bring the total to almost 7,200.

The remaining 2,800 could easily come from student housing on 20th Street or University Village on Spanish River, plus you could always build Innovation Village Phase 2 (as planned) west of Parking Garage 3 to give you another 1,200. And that's not to mention the taboo topic of Greek Housing, which itself could add anywhere from 200 to 500 people, although that's probably as likely as FAU moving forward on Innovation Village Part 2, unfortunately.

So there you have it.

As always, especially today during the CUSA Conference Championship Game,

GO OWLS!!!

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