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Texas A&M – The Q&A: How the Largest Student Housing Project in America will be Built

Rendering of Park West at Texas A&M - the largest student housing project in the nation.

Rendering of Park West at Texas A&M – the largest student housing project in the nation.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M University has launched a major construction project that will create one of the largest student housing complexes in the country on a 48-acre equestrian pasture at the southern end of the campus located in College Station. Not only that, the public-private partnership formed to pull the task together will funnel millions of dollars into the school’s coffers over the next 30 years.

Called Park West, the complex will be made up of 1,300 units with 3,402 student beds in apartments ranging from studio to four-bedroom units.

Radd Way, executive vice president of the Iowa-based Weitz Company, which will design and construct the project that includes 19 buildings, including a parking

Radd Way

Radd Way

garage, said this is the first time Weitz has built on the TAMU campus.

Servitas, LLC, which will develop the property, which is west of the George Bush Parkway, called upon Weitz to do the design and construction, which represents $245 million of the $360 million total cost. PGAL’s office in Boca Raton, Fla., is Weitz’ design partner.

The land will be ground leased to NCCD-College Station Properties LLC, a Texas nonprofit corporation. Under terms of the lease, NCCD will pay $18.5 million up front to the university, and future revenues are projected to average $20 million annually until termination of the ground lease in about 30 years. The facilities will revert to the Texas A&M University System at that time.

The following are excerpts from an interview between Way and Dale King, contributing writer to Realty News Report.

Realty News Report: Have you broken ground for Park West, and what is the timetable for completion?

Way: Several weeks ago, we began clearing the site, starting utility work for the location and preparing the pads for the buildings. The facility will be ready for the opening of school year 2017-2018. We expect to begin turning buildings over to Texas A&M as they are completed late in 2016.

Realty News Report: Park West is certainly a large project. Why does Texas A&M need 1,300 units?

Way: The university has a master plan and also did a market analysis of the demand for student housing in the College Station-Bryan area during the coming years. As a result of that survey, the university put out a request for proposals (RFP) to get private parties interested.

Realty News Report: How did Weitz come on board?

Way: In this partnership, Texas A&M is the public partner and Servitas is the private party and developer. Servitas contacted Weitz to see if we were interested in being the designer/builder. We accepted the request and have since hired architects and engineers.

Realty News Report: Can you briefly describe how the pasture land will be developed?

Way: Our construction project goes south from the creek that parallels George Bush Parkway. North of the creek will be a retail/entertainment type of venue, but that is not part of our project.

Realty News Report: What does your task involve?

Way: We are constructing the 19 buildings that will be part of the student housing complex. This includes three large structures and 16 additional buildings called “the flats” – three-story apartment structures that will ring the outside of the project. The southernmost building will be an eight-story parking garage with student housing wrapped around it.

Realty News Report: What are some things that differentiate this project from other student housing complexes?

Way: Probably the amenities. On top of the eight-story garage will be hot tubs, a large pool, grills, fire pits and cabanas. The courtyards of the two “C” buildings will include the same things. There will also be a small, retail area at the “B” building that will include a sundries store, offices and a fitness center. The structures will include quite a bit of study space, recreation areas and game rooms and lots of community space.

Realty News Reports: How about inside the housing units?

Way: Almost all of them will have bathrooms for all tenants. The apartments will have granite counters, stainless steel appliances and ceiling fans. The “flats” can be rented at lower prices and will be of different sizes and finishes.

Realty News Report: Is this project truly the largest student housing effort in the country?

Way: I don’t know of anything that is larger.

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