By Jessica Rosenberg, Brailsford & Dunlavey
This is the second article in a two-part series. Part 1 on Palmer College is available here.
As detailed in Part 1, four projects in the higher education sector have recently reached big milestones (e.g., financial close)—milestones the industry hasn’t seen much of since Covid began. The projects may have been impacted by Covid, but they still happened—they were simply that important to the schools.
It is worth restating that all four projects have happened differently—from traditional delivery methods to P3s, from a campus edge development to graduate student housing, from private schools to publics, etc. So these four projects, taking place on four very different campuses, show the range of what is possible in the sector at this moment, and all that may come. And they show, without a doubt, that Covid will impact the sector, but schools will continue to build, renovate, and grow strategically.
NJIT stays on schedule for mixed-use project and secures $95M in construction financing
The New Jersey Institute of Technology needed more beds, and needed unit types its students wanted to occupy. There was more than one way this project could come to fruition, so Brailsford & Dunlavey helped NJIT determine the approach that would best meet its needs, including: supporting growing enrollment, developing the campus edge, recruiting non-local students, and getting reimbursed for land costs. The selected approach: NJIT would pursue a new development at a recently acquired site, replacing a vacant elementary school adjacent to its Newark campus with a new facility.
It was important to NJIT that the project happen through a P3. Working with the private sector would fast-track the $95M project, drive down construction pricing, aid in efficiencies, and aid in navigating with various external stakeholders. This was true for NJIT both before and during Covid. Of course, Covid impacted the private sector’s interest in and ability to pursue such projects. But NJIT’s outlook remained positive and its position remained strong (including high on-campus occupancy during Covid compared to other campuses). So the team kept the project moving, adjusting as needed (e.g., NJIT transitioned from project-based financing to a master lease in order to address capital market uncertainty and keep the rents affordable).
The RFP was issued in December 2020, and the project closed in April 2021. The targeted completion date is Fall 2022. The resultant 250,000-square-foot, 548-bed campus edge development will support upperclass students and graduate students, with a mix of private units and those with shared bedrooms. As envisioned, it will also have retail and amenities, and it will support NJIT’s enrollment growth and drive a financial return.
Part 3 of this four-part article series will feature Lynn University.
JESSICA ROSENBERG plays a lead role in Brailsford & Dunlavey’s communications initiatives as Content Marketing Manager. She oversees the development of the firm’s content such as newsletters, feature articles, and social media. She has been writing about the building, construction, and related industries for more than 14 years, and is especially interested in opportunities and challenges related to higher ed campus development (e.g., Opportunity Zones, TIFs, innovation districts, P3s, hotels / conference centers, energy).