University and RISE move forward on West Campus residence hall construction


Jackie Park, Reporter

Students on West Campus now have the sounds of construction as the soundtrack to their days.

Matt Dull, assistant vice chancellor for finance and operations, interviewed Dave Blanks of University Communications and Jeremy Doss, senior vice president of RISE Real Estate about RISE’s role in West Campus’ residence hall construction.

“We serve as the developer here on this project, as all the projects we pursue and partner on, and as the developer for the project, we are the single contractee with the university,” Doss said.

Doss said RISE ensures other companies involved in the construction, like Choate Construction and Jenkins-Peer Architects, meet their deadlines and budgets, and App State is happy with the end result.

“Knock on wood, to date, we have never delivered a project late, and we’ll do everything that we have to do to deliver a project on time,” Doss said.

Doss said RISE and the university are using tax-exempt bonds to pay for the project, meaning it’s not-for-profit.

With the residence halls, Doss said RISE wants to “finance and build them on their own merit, on their own demand.”

To build the residence halls “on their own demand,” a third-party not-for-profit owner is needed outside of the university. RISE proposed Beyond Owners Group, a group Doss said he has worked with before and trusts.

Beyond Owners Group is serving as the owner of the residence halls until App State pays off the “rent” on the bonds used to build the residence halls. After this, App State will own the buildings.

“That’s all done via a ground lease, where we just wrap basically a ground lease around the base of these buildings, around these improvements and transfer them over to the nonprofits ownership during the term of the financing,” Doss said.

A ground lease is when a tenant can develop on land during the lease period. At the end of the lease, the land and developments are turned back over to the property owner.

“It allows the university to free up their ability to finance libraries and classrooms and other things that don’t have direct revenue tied to them. The project’s setup to be self-sustaining,” Doss said.

Blanks, Dull and Doss also discussed what roles App State and Beyond Owners Group will have once the first residence hall is completed.

Dull said the university is the operator of the facilities, meaning it is in charge of tasks like cleaning and residence life programming.

“It’s the group that’s doing some of the maintenance, the day-to-day maintenance of, ‘Hey, this light bulb went out, our filters need to be changed in our HVAC units,’” Dull said.

Dull said Beyond Owners Group acts as the owner of improvements to the buildings.

“Their role really is long-term asset manager for the project.” Dull said. “So they’re thinking about and helping us plan for things like roofs, HVAC systems, bigger systems that are a part of these buildings.”

Dull said Beyond Owners Group is also in charge of setting money aside for improvements as the building grows older.

“This is a very similar structure with these buildings as we currently have with our housing on campus,” Dull said.

Due to multiple interview requests, University Communications records weekly podcasts with Dull about the West Campus construction project to provide to news organizations.