WVU engages in public-private partnership to develop a $70 million mixed use residential and retail complex in Sunnyside
West Virginia University today (Oct. 26) entered into a long-term lease and development agreement with a private firm, Paradigm Development Group LLC, to develop a $70 million mixed use residential and retail complex in the heart of Morgantown’s Sunnyside district.
The agreement follows Tuesday’s (Oct. 23) Board of Governors decision to approve the five-plus acre property acquisition – just two blocks from the Downtown Campus – for $14.6 million.
WVU Vice President for Administration and Finance
University Place, as it will be known, will be a vertical complex (two multi-story buildings) on three acres, and will sit within the boundaries of University Avenue, Grant Avenue, Third Street and Houston Drive. It will also include an additional two acres across the street – facing University Avenue – for parking for residents and retail customers. (Click here to “fly around” the University Place development.)
Foremost, University officials say, the project will help fulfill the University’s strategic housing master plan which addresses the need for additional beds for international, professional and veteran students, plus the growth it has experienced the past few years in the freshmen and sophomore classes.
The initiative also fulfills parent and student requests for more modern, private living space close to campus, and faculty and staff requests for transitional family housing.
“This area is strategically located next to current WVU housing – Summit and Honors Halls – and is just a couple blocks from our Downtown Campus, making it the ideal location to enhance our housing master plan while beautifying this blighted area of our City,” said Narvel Weese, vice president for administration and finance.
He added, “Just imagine – to live and shop in a neighborhood that’s walkable to campus academic buildings, the library, student center, campus transportation system and downtown Morgantown — that’s going to be amazing.”
In a time when other parts of the country are suffering economically, Morgantown and WVU keep making smart investments that keep the community economically viable, Weese added.
WVU President Jim Clements said he is “thrilled that this project has come together as a win-win for our community and our students. This is an initiative that will transform the neighborhood and create many positive benefits going forward.”
Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla called the development “exciting,” and said it will have a “positive impact on our economy and on our entire community for years to come,” adding, “this is what you call good, renewable growth.”
As the project takes shape, it should also help eliminate the street and trash bin fires, plus the celebratory riots the area has been known for, he said.
“Paradigm is excited to be part of such an innovative and well thought out public-private partnership,” said Brian Helmick, representing the Paradigm Development Group. “University Place is a model for how the public and private sectors can work together on urban renewal projects to build brighter futures for communities like Morgantown. University Place will expand student housing and retail options in Sunnyside – and will revitalize an unattractive dilapidated area into a beautiful, safe and affordable place for students, faculty, staff and citizens to live, work and shop.”
It will also generate an estimated $1.5 million in construction-related business and occupation taxes in the initial phase, officials say, and once the facility is fully operational, it is estimated that it will generate additional taxes related to student housing and retail rents for the City. In subsequent years, it will also generate income for the City from other businesses that might locate in the neighborhood due to retail amenities included in the project.
“The Paradigm Group sets the standard in livability and design with this development,” Helmick said, “while enhancing WVU’s and Morgantown’s reputation and marketability. When completed, you’ll see a modern and architecturally pleasing mixed use development.”
The developers anticipate the facility and related amenities will cost in the vicinity of $70 million, with over 297,000 square-feet of rentable space and almost 268,000 square-feet of student space – or approximately 980 more beds in 265 units. The units will also have private bedrooms and bathrooms, in-unit kitchens, wireless high speed internet access, air conditioning and laundry facilities – all amenities students have been asking for.
In addition, retail space of 29,650 square-feet is expected to include a full service grocery store, a restaurant, fitness center, community outdoor space and other amenities. A substation for the University Police is also planned, plus 195,000 square feet of parking, or an additional 400 parking spaces.
Townhomes are also planned as part of the development, with a pedestrian-only streetscape between them and the main two buildings.
Grimm and Parker Architects of Calverton, Md., were selected by the developers to design this mixed use development, based on their experience with other higher education and student housing initiatives.
University officials will immediately begin contacting students and other tenants to offer alternative housing options and assistance with moving. Demolition is expected to begin in late December or early January, with expected completion in fall of 2014. For housing information and assistance, call 304-293-5555.
CONTACTS: Narvel Weese; WVU VP, Administration and Finance
William Hutchens, WVU VP for Corporate and Legal Affairs/General Counsel
Brian Helmick, Paradigm Development Group
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