University News

Construction Progressing on New Undergraduate and Graduate Housing, and Student Family Housing at UMass Amherst

824 new beds and 150 two-bedroom family units will address strategic housing needs

Plans to build new undergraduate, graduate and student family housing on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus are advancing, with 50 two-bedroom family units complete and construction progressing on all other aspects of the projects.

new housing design

An overview rendering of the new student housing complex off Massachusetts Avenue

The first phase of development for student family housing at the new University Village, at the former North Village Apartments site off North Pleasant Street, is complete. Fifty two-bedroom units and the multipurpose community center are finished. An additional 20 two-bedroom units will be available during the fall semester, and the remaining 80 two-bedroom units will be completed in spring 2023.

Meanwhile, construction along Massachusetts Avenue of 623 beds of upper-level undergraduate apartment-style housing and 201 beds of graduate student apartment-style housing is advancing, with a scheduled completion of fall 2023. The site is being developed with the undergraduate portion of the complex along Massachusetts Avenue and the graduate housing portion in a separate building near the location of the former Lincoln Apartments. The ground floor storefront of the undergraduate complex along Massachusetts Avenue will include a bistro-themed café operated by UMass Dining and space for enhancing student wellbeing, including a bouldering wall, that will be operated by Campus Recreation. Both the new café and the wellness space will be available to the entire campus community and provide new offerings that do not currently exist on campus.

Axium Infrastructure was selected as a partner for these projects from a large pool of competitive responses. Under the partnership, affiliated Axium entities are responsible for project development, financing, project management, design and construction. The development team also includes construction manager Suffolk Construction and architect DiMella Shaffer.

family housing

A depiction of new family housing units at University Village off North Pleasant Street

A housing study shows that the Massachusetts Avenue site, originally identified in the U3 Advisors 2014 report commissioned by the Town of Amherst and the campus, is a favorite among undergraduate students. The project will expand on-campus living opportunities for students in an extremely tight local housing market and will provide 10,000 square feet of dedicated space for UMass retail dining, wellness and social activities that will be available to all UMass students. The development will also provide much-improved graduate housing options by replacing the former Lincoln Apartments. The new construction eliminates $32.5 million in deferred maintenance at Lincoln Apartments.

new housing design

Rendering of the new undergraduate student housing off Massachusetts Avenue

UMass Amherst currently has 52 residence halls on campus, with approximately 14,000 undergraduate beds this year, making it the sixth largest on-campus residential program in the nation. Construction of new apartment-style housing will provide upper-level students with modern amenities and privacy in a central location on campus — all features known to contribute to student retention and success. The new housing will offer new on-campus choices to students who might otherwise consider off-campus locations. When the Massachusetts Avenue complex opens the standard undergraduate campus capacity will be about 14,700 beds.

The project has been designed to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, and it is expected to prompt vehicular and foot traffic along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor, reducing activity in the adjacent neighborhood. The development will serve as a bridge to downtown, with students having convenient access to Amherst businesses and supporting the local business district.

Transaction Structure

Two different types of transaction structures will finance the new facilities.

For the Massachusetts Avenue project involving undergraduate and graduate housing, Axium is constructing the approximately $200 million facility and through a 65-year concession agreement, will be responsible for all aspects of managing and operating the facility. The university will operate ground floor space for dining, wellness and social activities available to the entire campus community. UMass received a $20 million up-front service concession fee from Axium and UMass will continue to own the land and the new buildings.

The University Village student family housing project off North Pleasant Street is being developed by Axium, and UMass will own and operate the complex. The $73.8 million project is being financed by the $20 million upfront payment received on the Massachusetts Avenue project and $53.8 million in campus borrowing. In addition to the 150 two-bedroom townhomes, the project includes a community center, soccer field, play structures and pedestrian walkways. The new construction eliminates $67.5 million in deferred maintenance at North Village Apartments and is available for students with families.