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,
Couple of points
1.) Wouldnt the convention center and hotel kind of compete with the one in West Palm or this that the idea to bring more dollars to the county?
2.) Why not use the parking lot near PBSC and research park for the hotel and leave the SE corner for more resident halls and lecture halls?
3.) Do you see maybe the university renovating one of the old resident halls and using it as another lecture hall or maybe a lab of some sort?
4.) Finally what if any obstacles do you see standing in the way of the hotel/convention center project besides the obivivous
1) Yes it would compete but it would be a fraction of the size so a smaller event could come here and a larger event could go there. I'd imagine it would be something similar to Kent State's hotel & conference center. So perfect for something like a GeekFest but not so much for a Comic-con, if that makes sense.
2) Well that seemed to be the plan before this proposal came along and, remember, the proposal has not been approved yet so that R&D lot may still happen. In fact, FAU had a request before the city's planning board to allow a 120-bed hotel back there. If I was a developer though, I'd argue for the Glades Road location as they have just from a visibility standpoint. Yes, Spanish River now has the I-95 exit but Glades Rd is still a high-traffic, high-profile spot. Furthermore, when you consider the totality of the proposal - including dorms and shops - then yeah the SE side makes more sense, especially since FAU also has ambitions to build out the R&D park more (it's doing really well) with more tenants and they have been probably eyeing that parking lot spot for awhile now.
3) Nah. That would be counterproductive to expanding the number of student beds. What they could always do, as they have with GPT,HPT and… Parliament?… is create a single classroom within the facility on the ground floor for a class (usually one of those "strategies for college success", Living L\earning Community-type classes, but a room is a room). I'm kind of surprised that FAU hasn't put in a proposal for a dedicated General Lecture Hall facility ala Fleming Hall because my understanding is they do need undergraduate classrooms. Then again, their recent requests have been educational but just devoted to a particular thing - the Medicine Office building, the Engineering building, etc. The Capital Improvement plans request money to renovate several academic buildings like Arts&Letters, Social Sciences (the Spaceship), Science & Engineering, Physical Sciences and Engineering West which would basically shuffle depts around and consolidate them into renovated spaces within those buildings. Ultimately what you want to have is a building devoted to each thing - Engineering has one, Chemistry has one, Math has one, etc - but if you're going to build a dedicated math building, for instance, you'd like to have sufficient faculty to fill out the space and justify the cost.
4) Just the owl relocation issues (because it's been a speed bump in the past), traffic, giving up that chunk of land. The third part is probably the biggest one. You'd like to think there are enough incentives in this deal, both financial and otherwise, to make it a no-brainer, but that's not necessarily true. (Former AD) Craig Angelos claimed that he had a deal with McDonalds that would give us money for the baseball stadium if we allowed them to put a McDonalds on Glades (I assume by the west Glades entrance) and FAU brass turned that down. When the Botanical Garden project failed to get going on what became the Spanish River Athletic Park across from the Spanish River library, I proposed to Brogan we move it to the area south of UVA and he said the university planners shot it down - would have been a great academic resource. Granted, these are previous administrations, but you never know what their ideas or thresholds are. IIRC the Master Plans have only shown the Schmidt hospital (now defunct) and student apartments (which would be there, under this proposal) in that space, so I really don't think they have it all worked out yet. At the same time, universities can go on for 300+ years and you eventually need space for lecture halls and labs, so I get why they'd play a little conservative about giving up this land to retail uses. Even then, you'd think down the line FAU would be able to recapture it for the right price and redevelop it into something academic if they were that desperate for the space - look at this idea to demolish and redevelop University Village Apartments, which like Algonquin were considered "safe" like they had been granted tenure simply because they had paid off their debt so everything coming in was profit (minus upkeep). Nothing is permanent and even the hotel would be (should be) an academic hotel, so it's not like that's a wasted space either.