News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 4, 2013

Trustees approve downtown ISU housing

Facility to include estimated 228 beds

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana State University board of trustees has given its nod of approval to a student housing and retail development in downtown Terre Haute.

Trustees on Friday approved a 30-year lease with Thompson Thrift Development for a planned complex in the 500 block of Wabash Avenue. Terms of the lease call for the developer to construct a facility that will include an estimated 228 beds on the upper three floors with retail space on the first floor.

Thompson Thrift would own the building, and ISU will lease the residential portion of the facility as part of its student housing system. Thompson Thrift will lease the ground-floor retail space.

Earlier this week, Paul Thrift, president of Thompson Thrift Development, said the overall project cost is estimated at $17.5 million.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the State Budget Committee must also approve the project.

Once all approvals are secured, work on the project is scheduled to begin late this summer. New construction — after a demolition phase — should begin by next spring, Thrift said earlier this week.

The intent is for the ISU housing to be available for the start of the 2015 academic year.

The proposed structure, which is still being designed, will preserve the facades of the site’s existing buildings, except for the former Rogers Jewelers.

Trustee Ed Pease asked why the downtown, apartment-style housing is a good thing for ISU.

Many colleges and universities, including others in Indiana, offer different housing options, said Diann McKee, vice president for business affairs. Most of ISU’s housing is made up of traditional residence halls.

Other than University Apartments, “We really don’t have any different sort of product,” McKee said. Upperclass students have asked for more privacy and space, and the new downtown housing provides that option.

The housing will feature four-bedroom suites, with two bedrooms on each side of a living and kitchen area. Student rates for the downtown housing would be based on annual lease payments and cost of operations and maintenance for the facility.

McKee also noted that the majority of on-campus housing is being used for freshmen, and with the growth ISU has had in freshman enrollment, there really isn’t a lot of space for returning students.

“Many of those students want to live in university housing of some sort, and this will give them an opportunity to still be part of residential life,” McKee said.

The lease agreement calls for ISU to pay $385 per month, per bed. The lease payment will be adjusted annually based on the increase in on-campus room and board rates or 1.25 percent, whichever is higher.

The university also is responsible for all maintenance and operating costs of the residential portion of the facility, including any related real estate taxes.

One of the trustees asked about security; McKee said ISU police would provide security and respond to “any issue that needs to be addressed.”

Trustees gave approval for ISU to enter into a long term lease with Thompson Thrift. Trustee David Campbell asked that the board have an opportunity to review the full lease document when it is complete, and that was part of the motion.

“This is big for downtown Terre Haute. This is a tremendous step,” said Ron Carpenter, president of the ISU Foundation.

In other matters, trustees approved room and board rates for 2013-14 that reflect a 2.9 percent increase in standard plans as well as a new set of meal plan options developed by Sodexo dining services in response to student surveys and focus groups.

A “Non-Flex” plan offers a reduced rate from the standard meal plan; students who use it don’t have “commons cash” and they can’t roll meal plan credits from week to week.

The standard room and board rates for a double room in Blumberg, Cromwell, Rhoads and Mills halls would be $8,500 for 2013-14. If a student chose the “non-flex” meal plan, the cost would be $8,115.

Rates at University Apartments will increase about 2 percent but remain competitive with the local market, McKee said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.