Framed by Thursday morning's near-perfect weather, Boise State University officials broke ground on the much-anticipated $40 million, 236,000-square-foot Honors College and first-year residence hall, hailing the project as a "new beginning" for the university.
“This is our first negotiated private housing on campus,” said Jared Everett, Boise State treasurer and executive director of Real Estate and Business Development. “It’s very common throughout private education.”
Everett added that students would pay housing costs, as has been the policy, but those fees would be collected by Boise State and then transferred to Tennessee-based EdR Collegiate Housing, which is the university's new partner in the project. EdR, meanwhile, will construct and maintain the new building .
“This new building will have about 300 beds designated for honors students, in addition to my offices and honors classrooms, plus an honors courtyard and a dining hall that will be open for everyone,” said Honors College Dean Dr. Andrew Finstuen, adding that the long-term plan is to add another wing onto the structure to accommodate what he called "traditional" first-year students.
University officials said the building, scheduled to be completed by fall 2017, would have a "versatile design" when it rises for the four-acre site of the recently-demolished University Christian Church.
“The goal is for the Honors College to be kind of its own live/learn community and the second facility to be first year student housing,” said Everett. He added that the public/private partnership was helping the university simultaneously begin building two other high-profile projects: new fine arts and material science buildings, also part of the university's ever-expanding master plan.
“If it wasn’t for the private company doing the housing [for the honors college building], the [other] projects wouldn’t be happening,” Everett said.
EdR is overseeing the building as part of a 50-year lease from Boise State. This is the first EdR project in Idaho.
“Several companies submitted proposals and a university committee reviewed those proposals … ultimately EdR was selected as the finalist in August 2015,” Everett said.
He listed the Gardner Company, American Campus Communities, Capstone Development and Fresno-based Topanga Management Company as candidates for the project as Boise State began its selection process in the summer of 2014 . Topanga already owns and provides student housing across Capitol Blvd. from the campus.
“After [the university] went through the selection process that chose EdR to be their partner, we [worked] with them four or five months on the design of the process,” said EdR President Thomas Trubiana. “It’s a win for the university for the new housing, it’s a win for EdR because its our core business, and it’s a win for the students because it provides state-of-the-art live-learn communities.”
Everett said EdR would fund 100 percent of the project development and, ultimately, Boise State will manage the dining operation. He said the university is paying $3.5 million to manage the 14,000-square-foot food service in order for heightened consistency among Boise State’s dining areas.