UMass Amherst Takes Next Steps to Build Undergraduate and Graduate Housing, and Student Family Housing

Andrew Mangels

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst continues to proceed with plans to develop new undergraduate, graduate and family housing on campus and has selected Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions and Axium Infrastructure as the developer/investment team for the project, subject to final approvals.

The campus initiated a request for proposals through the UMass Building Authority (UMBA) last year and the Balfour Beatty/Axium team was selected from a large pool of competitive responses. The university is working with the team to design the projects, develop the final deal terms and will then return to the UMass Board of Trustees and the UMBA Board for their review and final approval. The project will provide for recurring opportunities for student input throughout the design process.

This public private partnership (P3) procurement is based on a process previously used by the UMass Building Authority, and the expertise of its consultants, to create the best results possible for the UMass Amherst campus and its students.

The project includes development along Massachusetts Avenue of approximately 600 beds of undergraduate apartment-style housing and approximately 200 beds of graduate student apartment-style housing. The project also includes the development of approximately 120 family housing units at the site of the former North Village Apartments. The targeted completion dates are fall 2022 for the family housing and fall 2023 for the Massachusetts Avenue housing.

The Balfour Beatty/Axium team has been selected to provide a comprehensive set of services for the project. This includes finance, planning and project management, design and construction. The development team also includes construction manager Suffolk Construction and architect DiMella Shaffer.

“We are very excited to be working with Balfour Beatty and Axium, both widely recognized as accomplished and creative partners working with universities nationwide to develop quality housing for students,” said Andrew Mangels, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

A recent housing study shows that the Massachusetts Avenue site, originally identified in the U3 Advisors 2014 report commissioned by the Town of Amherst and the campus, is a favorite among undergraduate students. The development will serve as a bridge to downtown, with students having convenient access to Amherst businesses and supporting a thriving local business district.

UMass Amherst currently has 52 residence halls and apartment buildings on its campus, and the 13,500 students typically in residence make it the sixth-largest nationally in the number of students living on campus. Construction of new, contemporary housing will maintain the university’s competitiveness in recruiting students, and the new units will also allow UMass to take other, aging residence halls off-line to undertake much-needed modernization. The new housing will offer new on-campus choices to students who might otherwise consider off-campus locations.

For this project, the UMass Board of Trustees previously voted to proceed with a request for proposal (RFP) as part of a comprehensive planning process, which requires board approval at three stages. In June 2017, a request for information was issued to determine market interest in various projects on campus, and in September 2018 the board provided preliminary approval (vote 1) for the campus to undertake a detailed project analysis. That work included a student housing market study and a procurement options analysis, leading to an RFP approval (vote 2). The university will work with the Balfour Beatty/Axium team to design the projects, develop the final deal terms and return to the board for review and final approval (vote 3).