Apartment buildings near campus will help alleviate housing crunch
Texas Woman’s University is planning to lease at least three more apartment buildings near campus to keep up with the growing demand for student housing.
TWU needs 100 extra beds to accommodate the students who want to live on campus, said Richard Nicholas, vice president of student life.
Freshmen and sophomores are required to live in on-campus housing.
TWU has already leased three apartment buildings from Scott Brown Properties, including Bent Tree Apartments at 1000 N. Bell Ave., Lone Star Apartments at 600 Texas St. and Austin Place Apartments at 1005 N. Austin St. Those apartments were leased in 2011.
In the fall of 2012, TWU leased up to 100 rooms from Quality Inn and Suites, located on Dallas Drive. The university didn’t need the rooms for the spring semester.
Freshmen applications are already 12 percent ahead of last year, Nicholas said.
Students will begin signing up for housing for the fall semester in mid-March.
The university is already in negotiations for at least three apartment buildings, and an agreement is expected to be made early next week. These apartments would offer an additional 74 beds, Nicholas said.
TWU is in negotiations with other property owners for the remainder of the beds needed, he said.
The university leases the entire complex and looks at properties based on factors such as walking distance to campus and off-street parking, and the condition of the property must meet university standards, Nicholas said.
At a meeting for students in November, TWU officials showed a draft plan with possible locations for proposed residence halls.
The TWU Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on soliciting proposals for the design of a new residence hall, but that item and other building-related items were removed from the agenda.
Chancellor and President Ann Stuart, who announced her retirement at the meeting, said at the time that based on proposals from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the university needed to pause and consider before moving forward.
At Friday’s meeting, regents didn’t discuss any building projects but talked about short-term solutions to the housing as well as the parking issues.
Regent Sue Bancroft, who was elected chairwoman of the board on Friday, said after the meeting that the regents realize there is a need for more student housing on campus.
“The state is in such a financial situation,” Bancroft said. “Until things even out with both the state and federal government, we can’t make any decisions about any building projects.”
Nicholas said TWU is currently working on a plan to build additional student housing on campus.
“Long-term, we have to look at construction or other ways of dealing with it,” he said.
University officials want to consider all possibilities before moving forward with a project, Nicholas said, including cost of construction and how much housing rates would need to increase.
TWU is also determining whether it anticipates an increased number of freshmen or transfer students over the next several years, he said.
It is easier to predict the growth of freshmen enrollment over the next several years than it is to predict the growth of transfer and graduate students, Nicholas said.
On Friday, the regents voted to approve an expenditure of up to $188,540 from auxiliary funds to purchase furniture for the overflow housing.
“We need furniture before we can approve more leases,” Nicholas said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
IN OTHER ACTION
During its Friday meeting, the TWU Board of Regents also approved:
* An increase of board-designated tuition by $8.36 per semester credit hour
* An increase in differential tuition for dental hygiene and nursing and to begin charging differential tuition for the school of management, department of health studies, department of communication sciences, school of library and information sciences and the department of fashion and textiles
* An increase of room rates by an average of about 3 percent
* An increase of meal plan rates by an average of 2 percent
* A $2 per semester decrease in the fitness and recreation fee
* A $3 per semester increase in the student union fee