New proposal for on-campus college student housing considered by Moffat County college district board | CraigDailyPress.com

New proposal for on-campus college student housing considered by Moffat County college district board

CRAIG — Developers pitched a new proposal for the development of on-campus college student housing to Colorado Northwestern Community College staff and college district board of control members during a workshop held Wednesday, Aug. 1.

"We are trying to grow this college and, by extension, the community. This seems like a viable option to consider," said Terry Carwile, Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board of Control member.

Ohio developer Springfield Properties Group, in association MKC Architects — involved in construction of the Memorial Regional Health Rapid Care Clinic — and owner of Adena Corporation Randy Payne — construction manager for the MRH Medical Office Building project — presented initial designs and preliminary financial models for a single-story, 25-bed housing unit or double-story, 50-bed housing unit, with or without a separate, 200-seat café for CNCC's Craig campus.

Springfield Properties would use MKC Architect's designs to construct and, with some exclusions, equip the facilities, then rent them back under a 25-year lease-to-own contract.

Construction costs are estimated at between $5.7 and $2.9 million, with yearly lease payments estimated to run between $421,000 and $215,000, depending on the options selected. Costs to the college and college district board would be partially offset by revenue raised from student housing fees, meal plans, and community use of the café.

Depending on the speed of approvals, weather, and other factors, the facility could be ready for students in 12 to 24 months.

"Students and parents are making decisions today, not just on academics, but also on where they live. Colleges investing in housing are growing," said MKC Architects President Jim Schmidt, who joined the presentation via conference call.

Payne said their experience in developing student housing shows that, not only does on-campus student housing play a role in college growth, but it also makes parents more comfortable knowing the housing is not owned by private interests.

"They want kids in housing that is operated by the school and that is on-campus," he said.

MRH set a precedent for private-public development partnerships.

In the case of the Rapid Care Clinic, the county leased the land to Community Clinics at Memorial Regional Health, a nonprofit with separate board and governance. The Community Clinics sub-let it to Springfield Properties, which then sub-sub-let it to The Memorial Hospital, operating as Memorial Regional Health.

A lease-to-own scenario for student housing "may be semi-similar, except I’m not sure if the local board of control would have to create a 501(c)3 (non-profit) to do it," MRH CEO and college district board treasurer Andy Daniels said.

In the case of student housing, property ownership is further complicated as a result of CNCC's inclusion in the Colorado Community College System. If the project must be approved by CCCS, it could mean substantial delays in construction or even denial.

Payne was introduced to college staff and college district board members by Daniels before his election to the college board of control. Daniels is neither an investor in nor a partner of the companies.

"I did know that they were willing to invest in new developments in Colorado and had significant experience in campus dormitory building," he said.

After more than five years of planning and proving the need for college student housing, Daniels said, "We finally have a workable, doable plan. If we are going to do it, let's get it done."

The next step is for Lois Wymore, board member and student housing committee chairperson, to collect questions she will then forward to Payne by Monday, Aug. 13. The development group will respond in time for answers to be shared during the next regular board meeting, slated for Aug. 20.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

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