Rutgers moves forward with $295M development to keep pace with enrollment


Rutgers could receive more construction funds if a bond issue passes in November.

Rutgers University officials are set to build an expansive academic building with 2,000 extra classroom seats, an 800-bed student housing facility, and a residential honors college for 500 of the school’s best students as the campus becomes the latest to fund construction in a public-private partnership.

The university’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees agreed to allow administration officials to start formal negotiations with the New Brunswick Development Corp., which will help fund the massive $295 million construction and renovation project.

The proposed project would include a 150,000-square-foot academic building; a residential honors college; an 800-bed student residence hall with street-level retail shopping and dining, and a new campus parking deck off George Street.

The project would be paid for through residential and dining fees, general operating revenues and state tax credits secured by the development company. Officials say the project will help the university meet growing demands, and help attract and retain faculty and students.

If approved, the project would likely be completed by fall of 2016.

For more campus construction news, see:

Anatomy of a campus construction project

Tennessee’s classroom upgrade offers new way of teaching

‘Building Excellence’ section of eCampus News Online

Rutgers President Richard McCormick said the four-year construction plan would help the school keep up with the 14 percent uptick in student enrollment since 2006. Classroom space has only increased by 3.8 percent in the past six years.

“This initiative would help the university meet the growing demand for modern classroom and residential space, while a campus-wide honors college would enable Rutgers to attract New Jersey’s … brightest students,” McCormick said, adding that the construction project would add 1,200 jobs to the local economy. “It has long been my hope to transform the university’s most historic campus with modern facilities and a more aesthetically pleasing, pedestrian-friendly environment that would help us recruit and retain the finest faculty and students.”

Antonio Calcado, vice president of facilities and capital planning at Rutgers, said the construction project would add campus lecture hall seats for the first time since 1993.

Around $199 million would be financed through student residential and dining fees and $44 million through general operating revenues, both over a 30-year period, according to Rutgers. Another $52 million would be financed through state tax credits.

Teaming up with a private entity to fund campus construction has become far more common in the post-2008 economy, as state budgets provide less for public schools and universities while college enrollment continued unabated. This has left many campuses, including the University of Akron, unable to keep up with growing student rolls without major financial help from outside lenders.

In a public-private partnership, a university provides the land to build on, agrees to manage it upon completion, and will make lease payments thereafter. The private financiers dole out the cash to build the hall, and own the property.

Rutgers, along with other colleges and universities throughout New Jersey, could see an influx of construction money come their way next year if a ballot measure is approved this November.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Aug. 8 that would ask New Jersey voters to approve $750 million in state money for various campus renovation and construction projects in an ongoing effort to replace aging buildings.

The law, known as the “Building Our Future Bond Act,” would be the state’s first campus bond act passed since the late-1980s. The $750 million up for a vote in November is less than one-third of the $3.5 billion in renovation funding first requested by higher-education decision makers from across the state.

If the bond is approved, the state funds would not be available for the state’s private colleges with an endowment of more than $1 billion.

For more campus construction news, see:

Anatomy of a campus construction project

Tennessee’s classroom upgrade offers new way of teaching

‘Building Excellence’ section of eCampus News Online

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