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  • Tuesday, December 01, 2015
    Blinn moves forward on new housing
    Blinn College trustees have authorized college administrators to negotiate with a company to finance, build and manage a new dormitory with more than 400 beds.
     
    Trustees on Monday unanimously gave the go-ahead to negotiate with Servitas LLC for the new dorm, which Blinn officials hope can be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2017.

    Blinn administrators said Servitas is their recommendation to head the project.
     
    “They’ve done it before, and they’ve done it very well,” John O’Neil, Blinn’s strategic initiatives director, said of Servitas.
     
    Servitas has headed projects at 45 other universities that resulted in some 50,000 beds in dormitories, O’Neil told trustees.
     
    Dennis Crowson, Blinn vice president for student services, said Servitas’ experience in dorm project “really came to the front” among other companies who responded to a request for qualifications.
     
    “I think we have a good comfort level with them,” said Crowson.
     
    Tentative plans call for the new apartment-style housing to be build at the intersection of Saeger Street and Old Mill Creek Road, near where a new gymnasium will be constructed.
     
    Servitas is proposing to form a non-profit entity called National Campus and Community Development-Brenham Properties.
     
    That would look to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide funding for the dorm at a 40-year payback. Construction costs are estimated at maximum of $28 million.
     
    Servitas would turn the dorms over to Blinn after the debt is repaid in 40 years.
     
    It would provide architectural services and a construction company, then use a separate entity called Servitas Management to manage and maintain the housing.
     
    O’Neil said Servitas would create focus groups that would involve students on what they’d like the new dorm to include, surveying them on a “preferred lifestyle.”
     
    Trustees also passed a resolution declaring an “expectation to reimburse expenditures with proceeds of future debt.”
     
    Kelli Shomaker, Blinn’s chief financial officer, said the college could incur some costs associated with the new dorm, such as surveying.
     
    Blinn, she said, “could be looking at tens of thousands” in expenses, but declaring an expectation to be reimbursed will allow it to be paid back “with proceeds of future debt.”