University Business September 2016 - 44

Partners in HOUSING occupancy, collecting rents and paying the developer a per-room fee plus the cost of services such as trash collection and cleaning. At the end of the term, the developer returns ownership of the complex to the university. Even though the school is not taking on debt, these deals are not without risk, says Dunkel. "If something happens and enrollment goes down, we still have to pay [the developer] for every one of those rooms." And, when the asset is handed over to the university at the end of the agreement, the school has an old building back on its rolls that might need significant upgrades or maintenance, says Allan Blattner, president of ACUHO-I and director of housing and residential education at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Despite the risks, P3 arrangements have benefits beyond keeping schools from taking on debt. They also free up capital for facilities like libraries and labs and, when the developer manages the new building, campus staff can focus on student services. The decision to enter into public-private partnerships often starts in the real estate or finance department, when officials agree additional residence halls are needed but the school does not want to take on Keeping it fresh: Although Granville Towers, located across the street from UNC Chapel Hill's campus, was built in 1964, it has been refurbished and updated multiple times by EdR, which manages the 1,327-bed residence hall. Student amenities include weekly housekeeping services for in-suite bathrooms, on-site dining hall and fitness center, a community kitchen, study lounges and a gift-wrapping station. debt or manage the building. Before signing on with a partner, campuses should ensure all administrators involved in student housing agree on the goals. Too often, the deal gets too far along to incorporate the input of other departments, such as housing, Blattner says. "Having conversations internally, before you engage with outside entities, is key," he says. Working out the details Arizona State University reviewed several proposals in seeking a partner to build 1,800 new beds in 2008. The team, including deputy treasurer and vice president of finance Joanne Wamsley, evaluated each potential partner for financial strength and experience developing similar projects. The university ultimately partnered with American Campus Com- The partnership perception In 2016, news outlets across the nation reported several accidents and inconveniences in private student housing developments. In Baltimore, a Morgan State University student was fatally stabbed in such a housing complex. At the College of Charleston in South Carolina, a student fell over a sixth-floor railing and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. And on the eve of finals, 80 UNC-Charlotte students were evacuated from a private housing complex because their building was sinking and deemed unsafe. "These private student housing developments are popping up all over near campuses," says Claire L. Turcotte, managing editor of the Society for College and University Planning's publication Planning for Higher Education. "Some of these develop- 44 | September 2016 ers are more focused on profit than safety and student needs." The bigger problem is the perception that universities are involved in the construction and management of private, offcampus student housing developments, says Allan Blattner, president of ACUHO-I. "There are lots of private developments around colleges that have nothing do with the colleges. When something bad happens, universities often feel the backlash." Since universities have no control over off-campus developments marketed to students, Blattner suggests that administrators encourage students and their parents to reconsider campus housing. "What we can say is, 'We have room for you on campus; come back,' " he says. www.universitybusiness.com http://www.universitybusiness.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business September 2016

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