University of The Bahamas (UB) and its public-private sector partners broke ground on Thursday, January 30th 2020 for a multi million dollar University Residence and Multipurpose Complex to be constructed at the Oakes Field Campus. At a projected cost of approximately $95 million, the complex will be strategically important to increasing the vibrancy of campus life and injecting new vitality into the surrounding communities. The partners in the project are UB, Providence Investment and Asset Campus International which are designing, constructing and will operate the mixed-use facility. The multipurpose complex will feature a 1000-bed capacity for student residents; 400 parking stalls; more than 50,000 square feet of common areas including a fitness centre, study rooms, a 200-seat dining hall, a 500-seat ballroom and a spiritual life centre; a University Village for leased retail commercial and business operations, and faculty residences.
“It is one of the single largest investments in an Over-the-Hill community ever in our history. Given the particular vulnerabilities posed by severe weather produced by Hurricane Dorian, the project team modified the design to mitigate against potential wind damage and flooding,” Prime Minister the Most Honourable Hubert Minnis said in his keynote address. “Design and construction is based on climate change adaptation. Building for resilience was a fundamental consideration. Once completed, this University Residence and Multi-Purpose Complex will help to revitalize surrounding communities, injecting new vitality and providing opportunities for community engagement and business investments,” the prime minister added. The groundbreaking ceremony is a milestone for the institution as the idea for expanded university residences had its genesis long before the charter date of the University in November 2016. The capital project will also be used as a vehicle to increase the University’s endowment. The land will be leased for $100,000 annually and 20% of the annual profit will go towards the endowment fund.
“An important and integral part of UB’s future is the build-out of our University Residence and Multipurpose Complex. Careful consideration in determining the location of this building was taken. It had to be in a central location. It had to be situated to enhance the economic and social development of the entire surrounding community, especially Bain and Grants Town. It needed to become a significant part of the thriving and bustling Oakes Field Campus, creating a true living and learning environment,” President of UB Dr. Rodney D. Smith noted. According to the Chairman of Providence Advisors Ltd. Julian Francis, the facility will be one hundred percent Bahamian owned, including significant ownership by the University.
“It will be managed privately under the responsibility of its board of directors, which will include representation from the University and the UB Student Council. The ownership and financing arrangements provide that at the end of thirty years of operations, full ownership of the facility will be transferred to the University at no cost,” Mr. Francis explained. Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffrey L. Lloyd affirmed the capital project as one that will increase the quality of the experience for Bahamian and international students. “Recent reports have revealed that 80% of campus expansions globally are done via public-private partnerships. On that note, I too applaud the corporate partners involved in this venture. Unity is a necessary ingredient in a country’s success. As we continue to advance, we must remain united in this mission to propagate a globally competitive nation,” he said.
UB Student Government Association President Alexis Lightbourne, a Grand Bahama native, expressed her appreciation on behalf of students. “As we continue to increase our Family Island student population and create avenues for international student exchanges, this complex will be a great and necessary addition for students, like myself, who would usually have to find housing away from campus. When this complex is complete, students will be more connected and engaged with the University, because we will actually live here,” she said.
The principals of the Bahamian-owned Providence Investment and Development Company Ltd. have advised that construction of Phase 1 is anticipated to be completed by June 2021, and Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed by November 2021. The design and development management is a joint undertaking between Providence and Asset Campus International, an arm of Asset Campus Housing of Houston, Texas, one of the largest student housing management specialists in the United States. The project’s General Contractor is DCK Bahamas, a subsidiary of DCK Worldwide.