'Modern' ISU apartments to replace Cardinal Court

2010-06-14T19:43:00Z 2015-11-03T15:14:46Z 'Modern' ISU apartments to replace Cardinal CourtBy Michele Steinbacher | msteinbacher@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

NORMAL -- Illinois State University's Cardinal Court apartments will be razed and replaced by fall 2012 with an 800-bed "modern" apartment complex for undergraduates.

The project will be ISU's first public-private housing development using private money to expand housing options while maintaining university oversight.

American Campus Communities of Austin, Texas, will partner with ISU to develop the site.

Such partnerships allow ISU "to provide attractive, modern and cost-effective living spaces for our students," said ISU President Al Bowman, following a special board meeting Friday.

The four-building, four-story complex, complete with parking lots, a community center, and a grass-covered quad, will occupy the 14.5-acre site off Gregory Street.

ISU trustees voted 5-0 in favor of the lease agreement for the $59.1 million project, which includes about $14.5 million in finance costs. Trustees J.D. Bergman and Bob Dobski were absent.

Dan Layzell, ISU business vice president, said the proposal emerged after campus leaders examined how ISU will meet the state's new sprinkler system requirements for dorms, which will take effect in 2013.

ISU found it would be more cost-effective to close Hamilton-Whitten and Atkin-Colby residence halls than to renovate them and outfit them with sprinklers.

But razing the south campus complex leaves ISU with about 1,500 fewer beds, But ISU spokesman Jay Groves said the entire 1,500 beds will not be replaced.

ISU leaders said Friday the new 800-bed complex will suffice for now.

Officials may recommend one of four other off-campus proposals for an additional 200 to 500 beds, but that's not been decided, said Layzell.

Cardinal Court was built in the 1950s to create housing for married students. However, most ISU students living on campus with families reside in ISU's Shelbourne Avenue apartments in north Normal.

At the new complex, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments will be available with 12-month leases to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Freshmen still will be required to live in conventional dorms.

Students will have amenities such as washer and dryers, dishwashers and several bathrooms per unit. ISU housing staff will manage the complex and provide programming, and its police department will provide security.

The community center will feature outdoor and indoor recreational activities, including a small theater.

"It's a high-quality option with amenities that students of today demand. It will make us extremely competitive," said Steve Adams, ISU student affairs vice president.

Though costs haven't been determined, individual students are expected to pay roughly $600 to $700 per month.

ISU apartments

ISU trustees on Friday OK'd a lease agreement that will allow the construction of an 800-bed student apartment complex on ISU-owned land now used for Cardinal Court apartments. Following is how the project will work:

-- ISU will join the Collegiate Housing Foundation, a national, nonprofit organization that specializes in helping universities create public/private housing. The foundation in turn will create a limited liability company on behalf of ISU to finance and construct the complex. The debt will not be on ISU's books or contribute to its debt load.

--The LLC will hold the lease for 40 years or until $59.1 million debt is paid off. After that, the lease will end and the property will revert to ISU.

--The property is expected to net about $300,000 a year, which will go to paying off the debt.

--The LLC will be able to secure tax-exempt funding, hire Texas-based American Campus Communities to build the property and sign an agreement allowing ISU to manage the property.

--Participating firms include: American Campus Communities, which has completed nearly 60 student housing projects; lead architect Solomon, Cordwell and Buenz of Chicago, which has worked on previous projects with ISU; and the general contractor, Weis Builders, a Chicago company experienced in student-housing development.

-- Demolition of Cardinal Court buildings is expected to begin in January 2011. Construction is expected to last from April 2011 to August 2012.

SOURCES: Dan Layzell, ISU business and finance vice president; Steve Adams, ISU student affairs vice president

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