A private solution to on-campus housing needs

The University of Utah needs more on-campus housing. So, it’s a good thing that housing projects are already being developed for the near future with unique solutions at the forefront and supported by external partnerships. The Ivory University House proposal is a private partnership with the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to build, manage and maintain a multibuilding, 536-unit, student community adjacent to the U’s campus.

This year, University Housing & Residential Education (HRE) has seen a 19% increase in housing applications for the 2021-22 academic year. This breaks all previous records with hundreds of students still on the HRE waiting list hoping to secure a bed on campus before the fall semester begins. University leadership continues to watch housing trends across the state and expect this trend to continue at the U in the coming years.

An illustrative plan of the Ivory University House, a multibuilding, 536-unit, student community adjacent to the U’s campus. Click to enlarge.

The Ivory University House proposal, anticipated to break ground in 2022, will provide an additional 536 beds for U students. Four, multistory buildings will be built on property owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the intersections of Mario Capecchi and South Campus Drive and replace the current meetinghouse at that location. The proposed single-occupant studio units will support upperclass students—juniors, seniors, graduate students—as they approach the completion of their degrees.

“This innovative partnership with the Ivory Foundation will generate thousands of new and sustainable scholarships for U students,” said Taylor R. Randall, president of the University of Utah. “In addition to building and maintaining these remarkable facilities, the Ivory Foundation has committed to funding future scholarships through the net proceeds earned by the Ivory University House. This commitment will, beyond a doubt, impact and benefit the lives of our student for years to come.”

The benefits of a partnership like this are many. The university will gain additional beds for U students while the costs of the construction will be covered by the Ivory Foundation. Public funds will not be used, nor will the U need to bond for the project for seek out additional private donors. This is a win-win for the U community.

“The vision for the Ivory University House is to provide students with a focused learning community where they will feel welcomed, engaged, supported and secure as they work diligently towards their educational and career goals,” said Clark D. Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes. “But our commitment goes beyond providing housing for students, as all net proceeds from this project will go into a scholarship fund that will benefit thousands of students over the next 100 years.”

Future residents will have the choice of affordable floorplans and unit sizes to suit their needs. Each studio unit will have its own entry, private bathroom and combined living area with either a kitchen or kitchenette, depending on the floorplan selected. No more roommates for these residents.

“This living community will continue the U’s upward trajectory of fostering a vibrant and engaged community among on-campus residents,” said Lori McDonald, vice president for student affairs. “This housing opportunity comes at a time when housing costs are climbing, combined with a diminishing supply. We hold true to the ideal that students thrive when they have a myriad of support options available to them.”

Proposed site of the Ivory University House located at approximately at 1780 E. South Campus Drive. Click to enlarge.

The 5.4-acre Ivory University House will replace an existing church meetinghouse and surface parking stalls on private land owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, adjacent to the U’s campus. Future residents will be mere minutes from the heart of campus and public transportation modalities like TRAX. The four, multistory buildings will not be managed by University Housing & Residential Education.

“This private solution to our housing needs at Utah’s flagship public university illustrates the strength of our community partnerships,” said Patti Ross, U chief business strategy officer. “We are grateful to have a partner like the Ivory Foundation that is also committed to student and community success.”

The fall 2020 enrollment data illustrates the need for additional on-campus housing. Fall 2020 saw an overall increase of students to 33,047—up from 32,818 in 2019. Enrollment of first-time freshman increased 5.5% with 4,484 students, and new transfer students also increased by 9.5% to 1,416. The university also saw a record high in graduate enrollment with 8,404 graduate students. While it’s too soon to determine those figures for fall 2021, it’s expected these record numbers will again be exceeded.

Pair those growing enrollment numbers with the actual numbers of on-campus housing units. The newest residence hall, Kahlert Village, opened in time for fall 2020 residents and added just shy of 1,000 beds to the campus total bringing the U’s total housing capacity to below 4,300. The U needs additional housing options to support students.

The Ivory Foundation proposal was recently presented to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission for review. It will now move to the Salt Lake City Council for review and to be voted on before the end of the year.