The first student housing project to be built on University-owned land but developed and maintained by an outside company opened Tuesday.
2400 Nueces is a $63.9 million complex standing 16-stories tall. It is located two blocks from campus and has 304 apartments with 622 bedrooms, with rates ranging from $796 per person for a four-bedroom apartment to $1358 for a single-bedroom apartment. Josh Wilson, vice president of development on 2400 Nueces, said the building is already at 99 percent capacity.
“[2400 Nueces] is the premier student housing at UT right now,” Wilson said. “I just think it’s going to be high-quality product for the neighborhood.”
The complex offers amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a coffee bar.
Walter Wukasch II, a University Area Partners board member, said although some may be concerned with the rising cost of living in the campus area, this development will help lower housing costs in the long run by adding housing units where there were none before. University Area Partners acts as the neighborhood association of West Campus.
“These are upscale units,” Wukasch said. “[But] the total number of units in the neighborhood is going to make it where the new projects are going to have to be more competitive.”
The housing development stands on the lot of what was previously Wooldridge Hall, which housed the University’s International Office, an administrative body of UT that handles study abroad, international students, English as a second language classes and other services. The International Office now operates out of the first and second floors of 2400 Nueces.
Wooldridge Hall was already due for demolition before the University decided to create more student housing, said Amy Wanamaker, campus director of real estate.
“The cost to bring the property up to standards was prohibitive for us, and we needed a more functional building,” Wanamaker said. “These are the reasons we thought of capitalizing the return on the property here by allowing a ground lease. And we didn’t want to sell [the University’s] property.”
Under the terms of the ground lease, the University lends the use of their land for a yearly fee of about $100,000 to Education Realty Trust, which owns and operates college housing across the country and is a $1.8 billion publically-traded company. The company paid the entire $63.9 million cost to develop the building and will receive all profits from its operation.
According to Wanamaker, the University accepted the company’s plan for student housing primarily because of the company’s 50-year history in the student housing industry. This is the first time UT is working with Education Realty Trust.
“Their experience, their ability to work with UT and their desire to be in the market made them a good partner,” Wanamaker said. “We particularly wanted something built that wasn’t a dorm. We have dorms.”
Larry Speck, a UT architecture professor and lead designer for the building, said he designed the building to foster a sense of community among its inhabitants, to be environmentally sustainable and to make the surrounding neighborhood a better urban space.
“We really are conscious about trying to build a nicer West Campus,” Speck said.
Speck also said he designed 2400 Nueces to help change the pattern of UT students moving from one apartment building to to another every year, which he believes harms students’ chances of forming lasting friendships.
“I hope it’s the kind of building, which is rare at UT, where people actually can move out of living in Jester their freshman year, and they move in here and they stay here for three years,” Speck said.
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