UMass Amherst Moves Forward with Plans to Seek Proposals From Private Developers to Build New Undergraduate and Graduate Family Housing

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst will soon move ahead with plans to seek proposals from private developers to construct new undergraduate housing and graduate family housing after receiving approval to proceed from the UMass Board of Trustees.

Proposals will be sought for a public-private partnership (P3) to provide high-quality, affordable graduate student family residences and to meet the growing demand for undergraduate student housing.

The development, projected to open in phases starting in fall 2022, will have two distinct components:

  • Construction of modern, apartment-style housing along Massachusetts Avenue for approximately 730 undergraduate students and 165 graduate students.

  • Replacement of about 170 aging graduate family housing units in North Amherst with contemporary, two-bedroom units.

Site development for the Massachusetts Avenue project will require razing Lincoln Apartments. The complex, which currently has 115 apartments for graduate and undergraduate students, will close May 31, 2020. North Village Apartments, at the North Amherst site, will also be completely razed to make way for the construction of new graduate family housing. North Village will close June 30, 2020. The new housing at both sites will replace facilities that, because of their age and condition, were not suitable for renovation.

During construction, the university will adopt a number of measures to make up for the temporary loss of parking in Lots 32 and 34. Options include construction of new spaces and converting Visitors Center spaces, pay-by-cell spaces and metered spaces to permit parking. Upon completion of the project, a net gain in parking spaces is projected.

Student residents affected by construction at each location have been provided extended notice so they can plan ahead for their future housing needs. The university is also working toward securing alternative housing for graduate student families who will be displaced by the construction.

Under the P3 model, the UMass Building Authority will issue a request for proposals in the coming weeks. This approach allows the university to pursue important capital projects without incurring additional debt. The university’s preliminary estimate for the total project value is more than $200 million.

The Board of Trustees’ Sept. 5 vote to proceed with an RFP is part of a comprehensive planning process, which requires board approval at three stages. In June 2017, a request for information was issued to determine market interest in various projects on campus, and in September 2018 the board provided preliminary approval (vote 1) for the campus to undertake a detailed project analysis. That work included a student housing market study and a procurement options analysis, leading to the RFP approval (vote 2). Following review of RFP responses, the university will return to the board for review of recommended final deal terms and final approval (vote 3).