UT students bought a piece of land in West Campus for $1 in 1950 to build a space for a ministry, but now Johnson Trube & Associates will buy the property for $3.8 million to build an apartment complex, according to the Texas Baptists website.
A high rise will tower over 22nd Street and San Antonio Street, but the Baptist Student Ministry, BSM, which has owned the land for 60 years, plans to buy back the first two floors.
This is not the first project of its kind in West Campus. Earlier this year, the Texas Wesley United Methodist Campus Ministry leased their land to a high-rise developer in exchange for the first two floors of the apartment complex.
BSM director Cody Shouse said the new space will be much larger and include more parking and advanced technology. Despite the perks of the new building, the current space holds sentimental value.
“Knowing that it’s no longer going to be there kind of sucks,” said Zayahary Ortiz, recent UT graduate and intern for BSM. “That’s where we shared a lot of memories. That’s where we shared a lot of meals. We had heart conversations there.”
Shouse said the ministry’s building served as a safe space for Christian UT students.
“There was a group of men and women in the ’50s that helped Christian students find a place to fit in at UT,” Shouse said. “But (they were also) engaging and serving the campus with the love of Jesus. They raised $1 million and built this.”
Every year, the UT BSM gets at least one offer for their land, but this was the first worth jumping at, Shouse said.
“This deal fully replaced what we had, all the way,” Shouse said. “It allowed for new investment in the ministry. It’s definitely a win-win, not just as a property owner. It’s what’s best for engaging the ministry and accessibility for the students.”
The new building will not open until August 2020. In the meantime, the BSM will operate out of rented space. BSM member Garrett Tittle said the silver lining of not needing to maintain a building is that they have more time to serve to UT students.
“I think it’s going to be rough for the next two years because we won’t have an actual building,” said Tittle, psychology and applied learning and development senior. “But I think it’ll be beneficial in the long run.”