Kent State University officials approve $1B campus overhaul
- Kent State University trustees have approved a 10-year, three-phase construction and renovation program of more than $1 billion for the Kent, Ohio school, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
- The first $221-million phase, which is slated for completion in 2020, will include a new $73 million business college administration building; a $45 million innovation hub and dining area; a new parking deck and other additions and renovations, as well as a $21 million mixed-use development that will connect the university to the downtown. The university also plans to construct the $400 million second phase and $106 million third phase from 2021 to 2023 and from 2024 and 2027, respectively. During the 10-year life of the program, Kent State said it will complete another $400 million of work on new or improved sports complexes and possibly an "intergenerational village."
- The university plans on financing the first phase with no debt, relying on a combination of contributions, investment earnings and state funding. It will also use a public-private partnership (P3) to complete the downtown-adjacent mixed-use component and is considering that method for the business administration building and parking deck.
U.S. universities and colleges are typically cash-strapped when it comes to capital improvements and some find it difficult to make even the most basic repairs. In 2016, the dire nature of the situation was highlighted by a report that said the University of Washington was facing a $1 billion maintenance backlog. The education research group Sightlines said that the overall U.S. university and college maintenance backlog was approximately $30 billion, and amount excludes capital programs like Kent State is undertaking.
But like Kent State, some schools are exploring P3s as a way to expand their footprints. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida State University soon could add a much-needed residence hall under a P3. While Florida State officials are still evaluating financing methods for the 700-bed building, a P3 is also under consideration.
Aside from alleviating the financing burden, some universities are finding that P3s are a cheaper option as well. For instance, Mississippi State University is building a $67 million residence hall through a P3, and said the project would have cost 15% more for the university to build it, according to Mississippi Today.
- Akron Beacon Journal Kent State University trustees approve $1 billion-plus campus makeover
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