Wednesday, October 29, 2014

UIS testing private market for expanded student housing

University of Illinois Springfield is turning to the private sector to expand student housing already at 97 percent of capacity.

Plans include a 100-bed mixed-use residential and retail facility on 14 acres at the west edge of campus, Chancellor Susan Koch said. No tax dollars would be used, said Koch, who added that she would like to see groundbreaking as early as next spring.

The University of Illinois Foundation, which owns the land, is accepting developer proposals through Nov. 20.

“This is really driven by the need for more student housing,” Koch said.

Fall enrollment at UIS is just over 5,400. A little more than 1,000 students live on campus, putting residential occupancy at 97 percent, according to the university. There’s the added possibility now of Benedictine University at Springfield students transferring to UIS after Benedictine announced it would end its undergraduate program at the end of the current school year.

The developer would be granted a 50-year lease with a 25-year renewal option at a cost to the developer yet to be determined, according to a request for proposals. The mix of single- and multiple-bedroom apartments would have to meet UIS standards for student housing. Up to 15,000 square feet of retail space would be allowed.

“It could be gift shops, pharmacies, specialty stores, apparel stores, restaurants, casual food or coffee shops,” Koch said. “There’s just a variety of things we could do there.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 29, 2014.

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