U picks P3 partners in campus transformation

This month, the U announced a new P3 (public private partnership) agreement with American Campus Communities (ACC) to nearly double the number of on-campus housing units over the next decade. ACC will lead the long-term development effort in partnership with two Utah companies, MHTN Architects and Okland ConstructionAyers Saint Gross, a national design and architecture firm, will also provide support.

“Our goal is to ensure that every first-year student at the university has the opportunity to live on campus if they want to,” said John Creer, chief real estate officer. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our campus and create college town magic that will set the stage for the next 100 years at the U.”

ACC, a portfolio company of Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc., is the country’s largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing communities.  Since the company’s inception 30 years ago, ACC has completed more than 115 P3 transactions at 65 colleges and universities across the nation.

MHTN Architects, a 100-year-old Salt Lake City firm, is known for its innovative and impactful designs. MHTN has designed campus buildings in Utah and across the nation including the Emory University Student Center, North Carolina State University Talley Student Center, and the University of Utah’s Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building. Other MHTN projects—Kahlert Village Student Housing and the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter— are currently under construction on campus.

Okland Construction, founded in 1918 by a Norwegian immigrant, is currently in its fourth generation of family ownership. Okland has built Utah landmarks including the 95 S. State Office Tower, 111 S. Main Office Tower, and City Creek mall. Okland also has completed projects at the University of Utah, including the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building, Crocker Science Building and, most recently, Kahlert Village student housing.

The companies were selected after a competitive, months-long RFP process launched in December 2022. Under the terms of the agreement, the university will retain ownership of the land while the companies will finance, plan, and construct the student housing with ACC managing operations.

The unique funding model will allow the university to prioritize public funding for investments in research, student experiences and education, and healthcare improvements, Creer says.

The project is meant to complement existing buildings managed by Housing and Residential Education (HRE). For students, the on-campus living experience will be seamless, says Andrew King, campus planning director.

The first project will be built directly south of Kahlert Village—currently a parking lot. Up to 1,500 student housing beds are expected to open by the fall of 2026. Upon completion of the housing plan, the U will have 12,000 on-campus housing beds.

Other public universities have launched variations of P3 arrangements, including Arizona State University, Texas A&M, Ohio State, UCLA and the University of Georgia.

Rebecca Walsh
University of Utah Communications