Nearly $1 billion over 99 years.
That's how much the University of Utah's latest housing venture is expected to infuse into the university community through the funding of scholarships, housing stipends and internships for students.
Continuing the commitment to transform the University of Utah from a commuter campus to one with an abundance of student housing, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday for the first building of a student housing project, with a twist.
The U., the Clark and Christine Ivory Trust and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came together to form a unique, collaborative, public-private partnership to build Ivory University House — a four-building, 621-unit apartment community located at the corner of Mario Capecchi Drive and South Campus Drive.
This project is unique and different from other university housing projects in that all rent paid to Ivory University House will be reinvested, to the tune of nearly $1 billion over 99 years.
The 5.4 acres the project sits on are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but leased to the Ivory University House for a 99-year term.
"Part of our agreement with (the church) was that we would give everything back to the students," said Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes. "We are taking a $24 million investment and producing an annuity that will likely generate nearly $1 billion in impact over 99 years. This is the future financial model for supporting higher education and we are grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for making this possible with our ground lease of this prime property adjacent to the University of Utah."
Additionally, 25% of residents of Ivory University Home will be coming from economically challenged backgrounds and will receive "substantial assistance" to help give students with financial needs or those working jobs access to quality student housing. Ivory said this year, 138 scholarships have been awarded to students for housing assistance.
This was accomplished through the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation donating an additional $6 million in seed funding to build "Complete U," a strategic plan to "activate campus year-round and engage underclassmen in experiential learning opportunities that lead to better student outcomes," said a release from the university.
From the time of his inauguration, U. President Taylor Randall has repeatedly emphasized his goals to "dispel the perception of the U. as a commuter campus." He said public-private partnerships like the one that made Ivory University House possible are some of the best ways to accomplish that.
"The only way we're going to be able to build a college town with college town magic is with a lot of community partners," Randall said. "This is the type of partnership that we think we can implement more in the future."
The building's amenities will include mentors in intellectual, physical, spiritual and psychological areas of study and exploration, along with programming events hosted in the community art studio, game room and lecture/recital areas. Activities include yoga, cooking classes, outdoor activities, tutoring sessions, paint nights and a Sunday night speaker and networking event called "Finding Your Way."
"Housing continues to be one of our largest constraints. We need to build 5,000 beds over the next five years and we can't do that on the balance sheet of the state and the university. So these public-private partnerships are really what makes it happen," Randall said.
Increasing student housing on and near campus also carries significant educational benefits for students and the university.
"People (who) live on campus, that get engaged in campus and feel at home on campus — they graduate sooner, they launch their lives much more successfully and it just makes the overall experience absolutely tremendous," Randall said.
Ivory said the next building "has to be ready" for next summer, to allow students to move in and get situated. All four buildings that make up the project are estimated to be complete by the fall of 2025.
Rent costs per unit, for the 2023-2024 academic year, are between $1,250-$1,375 a month and applications for the 2024-2025 academic year will be available starting Nov. 6, according to the university.
Although the land Ivory University House sits on doesn't belong to the university, the housing units have not adopted the Honor Code required by some educational institutions owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The housing does, however, require a core value statement be strictly enforced.
"Education opportunities are extremely important to both individuals and society as a whole," the church said in a statement. "The church is pleased to participate in this project, which will benefit academically focused University of Utah students, with off-campus housing and future scholarships."