The University Park apartments across the street from the parking garage on Cottage Grove Avenue have long stood in defiance of UNLV’s northward expansion.
With other local property on UNLV’s wishlist gradually becoming unavailable, administrators have set their sights on the non-descript building complex as an opportunity to establish graduate student housing on campus.
The process of obtaining the property started last fall, when UNLV updated its Master Plan and called for additional on-campus housing.
In March, AVS — a housing conglomerate contracted by UNLV to run the dorms on campus — proposed the idea of graduate housing north of the parking garage. In mid-July, the project was approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.
UNLV was negotiating to purchase the apartments for an estimated $17 million, until the price went up to about $20 million recently and forced administrators to go back to the drawing board.
UNLV Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Jerry Bomotti stated that the cost has gone up and that they are reconsidering whether to follow through with the project. As for the residents of the University Park Apartment Complex, UNLV is in talks with the owners to figure out a plan for relocating the current occupants.
If they bought the property, UNLV would work closely with Educational Facilities Development Services, a close affiliate of AVS, to develop the complex.
Administrators have long expressed the desire to expand student housing. Property on UNLV’s shortlist included the area around Flamingo and Swenson, near the Desert Research Institute and the Stan Fulton gaming building. The area was owned by Vegas Grand, but the company went bankrupt after the recession and the property was taken over by a new lender. UNLV was in negotiations for the property, but the talks never led to anything substantial.
“I think there are opportunities at UNLV to build housing all around the campus,” said Bomotti. He stated that the university is interested in buying up land so that they can lock it down for housing.
The project’s funding comes from savings accounts that UNLV has accumulated over the years, set aside specifically for land acquisition. According to Bomotti, development in the north and the eastside have always been a priority.
The Cottage Grove plan presents a great opportunity for administrators. With the complex already owned by partners AVS and President Neal Smatresk outlining a vision of UNLV as a premier research university, conditions are ripe for getting the ball rolling for graduate housing.
“I think that if UNLV wants to move up to being a Tier-1 university, we need to create a cohesive on-campus student population, which would include student housing,” said Graduate and Professional Student Association President Michael Gordon.
Gordon said that he felt graduates currently at UNLV would look forward to opportunities to live on campus.
“I think the location is great,” Gordon said. “Because some students work late at night and the science buildings are right next to there.”
He said that many graduates can not use the labs in the daytime because that time is reserved for professors.
“It’s better in terms of safety, work life, family, parking and productivity,” he said.
Gordon said that he is optimistic about the results of the housing project, if UNLV decides to follow through.
“I think it is sorely lacking and needed at UNLV,” said Gordon, echoing the same sentiment as Bomotti. “Whatever is coming needs to address these needs.”
Contact Edward Huynh at [email protected]