University System of Georgia Refines Housing Privatization Effort

by Katie Sloan

Atlanta — The 31-campus state system is seeking a long-term, private partner to acquire existing beds and to develop 2,300 new beds.

1,324 beds are for sale at Abraham
Baldwin Agricultural College
in Tifton, Ga.
— The University System of Georgia has postponed its RFP/RFQ that will invite an outside investor to acquire and develop student housing at several of the 31 campuses throughout the state. The university system, advised by Jones Lang LaSalle, outlined the housing initiative to attendees at the InterFace On-Campus Student Housing Conference in Orlando Nov. 14-15. Responses from the private sector, primarily that the timeline was too tight to deliver the number of beds called for in the first phase, has influenced project leaders to change the original issue date from Dec. 5 to a date in the first quarter of 2014.

Current plans envision that the private partner will acquire 6,190 beds and develop 2,300 beds on eight campuses, the largest of which is 2,322 beds for sale and 700 beds to be developed at Georgia State University in Atlanta and 1,324 beds for sale at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Other participating campuses include Armstrong Atlantic State University, Columbus State University, College of Coastal Georgia, University of North Georgia, East Georgia State College, and Dalton State College.

“The number one piece of feedback we got from the conference was that the schedule was too tight,” says Susan Ridley, associate vice chancellor for fiscal affairs for the University System of Georgia. “It would be very hard to deliver those new beds for the fall of 2015. So in considering our schedule of needs, we thought we’d get a better product in the long run if we delayed the new construction until the fall of 2016. We have received a lot of good feedback not just about the schedule but also about the type of information needed in the RFQ in order for teams to prepare responses. We are taking that feedback now and identifying other due diligence items that we need to examine before we put the RFQ out.”

The board of regents and JLL are now refining their guidelines and approach to this partnership. “We thought it was important to have a good solid process and push back the time frame,” says John Gibb, managing director with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas.

Ridley says one part of due diligence the team will be working on over the next few weeks is adding additional campuses into the first phase of development. “Other feedback we got from potential bidders was ‘the bigger, the better,'” she says. “So now we have the opportunity to possibly add some additional campuses in both existing and new beds.”

Shan Gastineau, managing director with Jones Lang LaSalle, says potential acquirers like the geographic diversity as well as the diversity of types of institutions in this large portfolio. “Investors appreciate the range of access institutions to research institutions, and pushing the delivery deadline of the new housing to 2016 will allow us to create more diversity.”

The university system of Georgia currently includes more than 60,000 total existing beds. The board of Regents and Jones Lang LaSalle have looked toward projects at the University of Kentucky and Shippensburg University as guideposts in the growing interest in university-private sector partnerships.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the alignment of interests that are possible in partnering with the private sector for student housing,” Ridley says. “There’s been more interest and more participation from a broad spectrum of potential partners than I had originally anticipated. We have met with a number of groups who are interested in being long-term partners in the development, maintenance and operation of housing. This is a first for us, and we wanted to put our best foot forward.”

— Lynn Peisner

You may also like