Texas Universities are Expanding, Almost All Need Construction Partners
Texas universities are experiencing significant student growth. As a result, more facilities are needed and construction opportunities are abundant. Competition to attract students is fierce, and campuses are rushing to build new student housing, multi-purpose gathering places, sports stadiums, research labs, and well-appointed technology classrooms labs.
Some universities have lowered tuition fees, and a few even have even announced free tuition programs. In July, The University of Texas Board of Regents announced a $160 million endowment fund, allowing undergraduate Texas resident students whose families make less than $65,000 annually to attend the university tuition free. Similarly, three of the Lamar State Colleges cut tuition by 25 percent in an effort to help students obtain a degree with an affordable path to achieve those goals.
Construction projects on university campuses will be diverse, and because they are so abundant, companies can truly pick and choose the type of opportunities they want to pursue.
Here are a few upcoming construction opportunities that bear monitoring:
The Board of Regents for Texas Woman’s University recently approved funding of $11.5 million for construction of a new sports complex. Although planning is ongoing and the size of the facility is still under discussion, it appears that the complex will include a new gymnasium, locker rooms, concession stands, restrooms, and classroom space. There may be more. The current plan is for the soccer and softball programs to utilize the new complex with the possibility of adding additional competitive sports as well. Officials have said that another six months is needed to complete plans and then solicitation documents will be released shortly after that.
Tarleton State University, a part of the Texas A&M University System, is expected to begin construction on a second building at its new Fort Worth campus as early as 2021. The new building will house two kinesiology labs – the Laboratory for Wellness and Motor Behavior and the Clinical Exercise Research Facility. Additionally, there are plans for a Child Development Center and Learning Resource Center housed in the new facility. Regents for the Texas A&M University System approved $63 million for the project. Private funding will cover the remaining funding that will be required. A&M funding will come from the Permanent University Fund but there will also be funding from a $2.9 billion system wide capital plan approved by the Board of Regents.
The Board of Regents for the University of Houston System approved $78 million in funding as part of the new $90 million law school. The college is in the midst of raising an additional $12 million from private and public contributions. The new five-story building will feature an event space, a courtroom, state-of-the-art classrooms, a library encompassing two floors, and a pro bono legal services area. The design phase has begun, and construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.
University of North Texas (UNT) officials approved plans for new construction at the UNT branch in Frisco. Construction is expected to begin in 2020, and students will be enrolled by 2023. The 2020 operating budget for UNT outlines $3 million for campus development at the Frisco branch. The University has obtained two 50-acre parcels and will begin vertical construction on one parcel before moving onto the other. Various improvements and construction on the site will include landscaping, new roadways, parking, utility connections, and finally the construction of some buildings. The first building, unless changes are made, will be greater than 110,000 gross square feet and serve as a multi-purpose academic facility.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has been transparent about the fact that the campus will seek alternatives funding for a number of projects related to its Downtown Campus expansion. The College of Business is the centerpiece of the first phase that is part of the University’s 10-year plan. In spite of the fact that UTSA did not receive $126 million in state funding the university had requested for upcoming construction projects, university leaders have decided to move forward by finding interested private-sector investors. This is becoming a common approach to construction projects, and if university projects are attractive, there will be no shortage of interested parties eager to invest. Some sort of a public-private partnership may be combined with philanthropic support. Future plans on the campus expansion will be released in the next few months.
At The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Phase III of the planned renovations to the John Sealy Hospital has been approved. This project is detailed in the university system’s recent Capital Improvement Program. The proposed project is to construct an inpatient rehabilitation facility and a behavioral health unit. Also included is a modernization plan for patient treatment areas and staff spaces. The John Sealy Hospital project follows a series of expansion and modernization projects in Galveston. The project encompasses multiple service lines across three different buildings on the Galveston campus and a consolidation and centralization of patient care service areas. The total project is estimated to cost approximately $54 million, and construction is expected to begin in 2021.
The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) plans to construct a new parking structure on campus. The structure will provide space for approximately 1,200 cars in a 400,000-square-foot facility. After issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) for architectural and engineering services, a selection committee at UTD is in the process of selecting a contractor. Projected costs are $26.9 million, and the plan is for the facility to be completed by summer of 2022. The project delivery method will be a Construction Manager at Risk.
In San Marcos, a new music building will be built on the Texas State University campus. The facility also will include classrooms, offices, and rehearsal spaces for the School of Music. After revisions in June 2019, the building is now estimated to be more than 110,000 square feet, and cost estimations have been placed at roughly $70 million. The project is largely to be funded through philanthropic means as well as Texas State University System Revenue Bonds.
Construction firms interested in any of the upcoming university projects are advised to schedule meetings soon to express interest, gather planning details, and inquire about delivery methods. Texas is growing, and it is incredibly good that universities leaders have committed to being ready to handle the increased demand and offer outstanding resources to students.