Tennessee company plans apartment high-rise for University of Texas students

The University of Texas at Austin is negotiating a ground lease with a Tennessee company tapped to build an apartment high-rise at 24th and Nueces streets that’s targeted toward UT students.

Memphis, Tenn.-based Education Realty Trust Inc. has hired Austin-based PageSoutherlandPage as the lead architecture and design firm for the project, and Greeley, Colo.-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co. as the general contractor.

The project will include parking and ground-floor retail. Education Realty Trust (NYSE: EDR) will develop, own and manage the project.

“While the final design and total cost [are] still to be finalized, the project is projected for a summer 2013 opening,” Education Realty Trust says in a news release. “Commencement of construction is subject to execution of final definitive agreements, city approval processes and confirmation of development costs.”

Although the size and cost of the project haven’t been determined yet, the price tag certainly will be in the millions of dollars.

At its July meeting, the University of Texas Board of Regents authorized a ground lease for the nearly 1.5-acre site, which is just west of the UT campus. Officials with the university and Education Realty Trust remain in negotiations on the more than 60-year lease.

The project will be built at 600 W. 24th St. That’s the current location of Wooldridge Hall (photo), which houses the university’s International Office. The fate of Wooldridge, which was built in 1913 as an elementary school, is unclear.

“Until the ground lease is signed, we cannot comment further,” UT spokeswoman Rhonda Watson says.

Near the site for the planned high-rise are a Starbucks shop, a Quiznos restaurant, and the Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma and Kappa Delta sorority houses.

Randy Churchey, president and CEO of Education Realty Trust, says the bidding process for this project was competitive, “and we are happy the University of Texas at Austin selected us for this meaningful new project.”

Education Realty Trust owns or manages 64 student housing communities in 22 states.

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