Plans to build new family housing for undergraduates, graduates and students on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus are progressing, with 50 two-bedroom family units completed and construction progressing on all other aspects projects.

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The first phase of housing development for student families in the new University Village, on the former North Village Apartments site near North Pleasant Street, has been completed. Fifty two-bedroom units and the multi-purpose community center are complete. An additional 20 two-bedroom units will be available in the fall semester, and the remaining 80 two-bedroom units will be completed in the spring of 2023.

Meanwhile, construction along Massachusetts Avenue of 623 beds of upper-level undergraduate apartment-style housing and 201 beds of graduate student apartment-style housing is progressing, with completion expected in fall 2023. The site is under development with the undergraduate portion of the complex along Massachusetts Avenue and the graduate housing portion in a separate building near the location of the former Lincoln Apartments. The ground floor storefront of the undergraduate complex along Massachusetts Avenue will feature a bistro-themed cafe operated by UMass Dining and space to enhance student wellness, including a rock climbing wall, which will be operated by Campus Recreation. Both the new café and the wellness area will be accessible to the entire campus community and will offer new offerings that do not currently exist on campus.

Axium Infrastructure was selected as a partner for these projects from a large pool of competitive responses. Under this partnership, Axium’s affiliated entities are responsible for the development, financing, project management, design and construction of the project. The development team also includes construction manager Suffolk Construction and architect DiMella Shaffer.

A housing study shows that the Massachusetts Avenue site, originally identified in the 2014 U3 Advisors report commissioned by the city of Amherst and the campus, is a favorite among undergraduates. The project will expand campus living opportunities for students in an extremely tight local housing market and provide 10,000 square feet of space dedicated to UMass dining, wellness and social activities that will be available for all UMass students. The development will also provide much improved graduate housing options by replacing the former Lincoln Apartments. New construction eliminates $32.5 million in deferred maintenance at Lincoln Apartments.

UMass Amherst currently has 52 on-campus residence halls, with approximately 14,000 undergraduate beds this year, making it the sixth-largest on-campus residential program in the nation. The construction of new apartment-style housing will provide upper-level students with modern amenities and privacy in a central location on campus – all features known to help student retention and success. The new housing will provide new on-campus choices for students who might otherwise consider off-campus locations. When the Massachusetts Avenue complex opens, the standard undergraduate campus capacity will be approximately 14,700 beds.

The project was designed to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, and is expected to stimulate vehicular and pedestrian traffic along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor, reducing activity in the adjacent neighborhood . The development will serve as a bridge to downtown, with students having convenient access to Amherst businesses and supporting the local business district.

Structure of transactions

Two different types of transaction structures will finance the new installations.

For the Massachusetts Avenue project involving student and graduate housing, Axium is constructing the approximately $200 million facility and, under a 65-year concession agreement, will be responsible for all aspects of the management and operation of the facility. The university will operate a ground floor space for dining, wellness, and social activities available to the entire campus community. UMass received an initial service concession fee of $20 million from Axium and UMass will continue to own the land and new buildings.

The University Village student family housing project near North Pleasant Street is developed by Axium, and UMass will own and operate the complex. The $73.8 million project is funded by the $20 million upfront payment received on the Massachusetts Avenue project and $53.8 million in on-campus loans. In addition to 150 two-bedroom townhouses, the project includes a community center, soccer field, play structures and walkways. The new construction eliminates $67.5 million in deferred maintenance at North Village Apartments and is available for students with families.