With a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, Fort Hays State University has entered a new era in which students will enjoy additional housing options during their college years.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said the construction project for a new student apartment complex was made possible through a partnership between the university and private developers.
The president and others associated with the project offered brief remarks before taking up shovels to participate in a ceremonial turning of the earth.
" The FHSU apartments are a competitively bid joint venture of the university and Uniplace LLC," he said. "The theme for our current academic year is 'Quality,' and it is this kind of public-private cooperation that allows us to achieve excellence in so many of the things we do."
The apartment complex, located on the site of the former McGrath Hall immediately north and west of Lewis Field Stadium, will consist of two 2-story buildings and two 3-story buildings. It will offer an equal mix of 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom units.
" Uniplace will build the apartment complex and assume all liability for servicing the construction debts," the president said. "These will be upscale apartments, fully furnished, each with its own washer/dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and range. We expect occupancy to begin by Aug. 1, 2005, in plenty of time for the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year."
He said Uniplace also would construct a maintenance building and maintain insurance coverage.
" The university also assumes responsibilities as part of the joint effort," Dr. Hammond said. "We are providing the land and on-site management, which will include managing the leases, marketing the complex, collecting rent and utility payments, providing Internet and cable connections to university systems, maintaining the grounds and buildings, and enforcing FHSU policies and local, state and federal laws."
The new 120-bed complex will help to replace the more than 200 beds that were lost when McGrath was razed.
The cost of the project will be about $5 million, and rent will be $420 a month per bedroom.
Dr. Herb Songer, who oversees the university's residential life program as vice president of Student Affairs, said he was confident the apartment complex would be not only successful but a first step toward the future. "This is really an exciting project that ushers in a new era of options for students who live on campus," he said. "We know this is the future, the kind of environment many students want when they come to campus. This living arrangement will give them more privacy and more flexibility."
Mitchell Hall, FHSU's Student Government Association president, echoed Dr. Songer's comments. "I was really pleased that after looking at other locations, this site was selected," he said. "It provides another option for housing that gives privacy and yet allows students to stay on campus. This location is convenient to classes and many other campus facilities. For example, it will provide meal plan options at the adjacent McMindes Hall cafeteria. Students definitely will use this new apartment complex."
Uniplace LLC was created for the FHSU project, which originally was the brainchild of Dave Van Doren, a Hays resident and FHSU alumnus, and Brooks Kellogg, another FHSU alumnus who has a residence in Steamboat Springs, CO. Van Doren, as the project coordinator and owner's representative for Uniplace, will be in charge of day-to-day operations.
Kellogg formed Uniplace with Dan Hannin and Richard A. Friedman, who both reside in Steamboat Springs. Kellogg, a member of the FHSU Endowment Association Board of Directors, was not able to attend the groundbreaking because he is traveling in Thailand.
Friedman, president of Chadwick Real Estate Group, Inc., of Daytona Beach, FL., has 32 years of experience in developing apartments and condominiums in Florida and Colorado, including a previous project in Colorado with Kellogg.
" This is high-quality, condominium-style housing at an affordable price," Friedman said. "Our $420-a-month rent is $200 a month below the national average for comparable college housing."
As managing director, Friedman will oversee all aspects of the project. "I'm proud to be part of what I believe will be a tremendously successful venture," he said.