Private-Sector Housing in Fayetteville Chases UA Student Growth

by George Waldon  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

Another round of private-sector student housing is in motion to tap the enrollment growth at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Leading the way is The Cardinal at West Center, a 471-bed project expected to open this summer at 831 W. Center St., one block south of campus. In addition to this $23 million development, plans are moving forward on four other projects that could bring a combined 1,865 beds on line by summer 2016.

“You’re going to see several things pop,” said Seth Mims, president and partner at Specialized Real Estate Group of Fayetteville, a co-developer of The Cardinal. “There’s going to be a pretty good wave in 2016.”

In order of likely appearance are:

• Gather on Dickson, a 233-bed project planned for a nearly 1-acre site on the south side of Watson Street between Thompson and St. Charles avenues, behind Colliers Drug Store at 100 W. Dickson St.

• Sterling Frisco II, a 559-bed project planned on a 2.85-acre site on the west side of Campbell Avenue between Lafayette and Watson streets.

• A 408-bed project tentatively dubbed Harvey’s Hill on a 2.1-acre site under contract at the southeast corner of Duncan Avenue and Center Street.

• A 670-bed project on 13.5 acres under contract and currently occupied by warehouses near the southeast corner of Beechwood Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Despite its name, Gather on Dickson will likely have a Watson Street address. The five-story project could open as early as summer 2015. Rael Development Corp. of Newport Beach, Calif., bought the location for $1.6 million in December. The project is designed by Hight-Jackson Associates of Rogers.

Specialized Real Estate Group has a hand in the other three private student-housing developments that could open during the next two years.

Construction is expected to start in May on Sterling Frisco II, with a summer 2016 opening. The land was assembled for $3.4 million in March 2012.

SREG also partnered with The Dinerstein Cos. of Houston on Sterling Frisco, a $45.6 million, 640-bed project that opened in August on the eastern edge of the UA campus at 413 N. West Ave.

Harvey’s Hill is planned for a neighboring site across Duncan Avenue from The Cardinal. The redevelopment would replace small apartments and houses and could open by 2016.

SREG hopes to launch this year an as-yet-unnamed 670-bed project that would replace warehouse properties across Beechwood Avenue from what once was The Domain, a member of the off-campus student housing class of 2013.

An affiliate of Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., bought the 654-bed project from Asset Plus Communities of Houston for $42 million in July and changed its name from The Domain to University House. The nearly 14.8-acre development, southwest of the UA campus, has an address of 1801 W. Diamond Drive, an entrance to the project.

To build the 2.1-acre The Cardinal at West Center, SREG partnered with Capstone Development Partners LLC of Birmingham, Ala. The project team is not finalized for Harvey’s Hill, which refers to former Confederate Gen. Daniel Harvey Hill, who served as the first UA president in 1877-84 and whose house once stood on the property.

The design work for Sterling Frisco and The Cardinal was handled by Modus Studio of Fayetteville, known for its modernistic, minimalist design founded on sustainability.

Farther to the southwest of campus, a 26-acre site remains dormant near the southeast corner of Interstate 540 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The location between Futrell Drive and Hollywood Avenue, purchased for $2.3 million in July 2012, was to become the home of a 600-bed student housing project in 2014.

“It’s just kind of on the back burner,” said Brandon Barrett, CEO of J.H. Barrett Properties LLC of Athens, Ga.

“We’re working on a project in Auburn that we hope to have open for the 2014-15 school year. After that, we’ll just have to look at where we’re at.”

The University of Arkansas killed a would-be SREG project on the northern edge of campus through eminent domain. Instead of the 460-bed Project Cleveland, the property will be home to a university-owned parking lot.

“The [parking] project is on hold until money is budgeted for it,” said Todd Ferguson, campus planner at the University of Arkansas. “It’s not going to happen until next year at the earliest.”

The legal action by the UA forced Springdale contractor Fadil Bayyari to sell the 60-unit Sunshine Place Apartments at 1220 W. Cleveland St. and a neighboring house.

The $2.25 million court-facilitated transaction in November pushed Specialized Real Estate Group away from entering the ownership picture.

“It was not anything we expected, that was for sure,” said Jeremy Hudson, CEO of SREG. “We protested it, but we ultimately bowed out. We decided it wasn’t worth the time or the money or the headache.”

SREG had the Bayyari property under contract as part of the 2.7-acre land assembly for its Project Cleveland.

The university also acquired adjoining houses on Hall Avenue that were to be part of the project for $468,000 in June.

These two houses and Sunshine Apartments are now gone, replaced by a temporary parking lot. UA officials plan to upgrade the property into a more scenic, paved lot.



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