CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A private development company will finance a new student housing facility planned for West Virginia State University.
During his state of the university address in October, President Brian Hemphill announced State would build its first new dormitory since 1969.
Slated to house about 300 students and offer suite or apartment-style housing, the project will cost $16 million to $19 million, Hemphill confirmed Thursday after a meeting of the university's board of governors.
Gore Hall, a dorm that closed this year, will be demolished.
The public-private venture is similar to one recently announced by West Virginia University. WVU is partnering with Paradigm Development Group LLC to construct a $70 million student housing and retail structure in Morgantown's Sunnyside neighborhood
A key difference: Paradigm is seeking private loans for the WVU project, while State's developers have all the money needed to start right now.
"They told us they have the money today," said Melvin Jones, State's vice president for business and finance. "That's one of the things that was good about their proposal."
Miami-based Mantra is the chosen developer, Jones said. It was one of three companies to submit proposals when the university sent out requests for the project, he said.
In January, Mantra presented a 67-page report on student housing to the board of governors. It suggested demolishing two current facilities to build a new 300-room complex, once the demand for on-campus housing increases at State.
The report also goes into great detail about the advantages of financing the project with a private developer as opposed to borrowing via the sale of bonds. All of the funding risks fall on the developer, and that makes it "more likely to ensure the successful completion of a higher quality project," according to Mantra's report.
There are also construction advantages to such an arrangement, the report states.
"The developer contracts with the lenders (if any), lawyers, architects, engineers, and contractors, sidestepping the university's procurement process," according to the report. "Since they do not have to navigate the extensive bureaucratic rules governing the capital projects of state universities, they can construct the buildings more quickly."