MURRAY – At its quarterly meeting Friday, the Murray State University Board of Regents heard a report from the Brailsford & Dunlavey firm about how it plans to facilitate the construction of new residence halls and dining facilities.
Murray State is seeking a public/private partnership to develop, design, build, finance, operate and maintain student housing and dining facilities. Jackie Dudley, Murray State’s vice president of finance and administrative services, said the university had hired Brailsford & Dunlavey to assist in the process, and the firm’s executive vice president, Jeff Turner, gave the board an update during the Finance Committee portion of the board meeting, laying out a timeline of a multi-phase improvement plan.
While praising Murray State’s residential college system, Turner said high-quality student housing is important because students who live on campus are statistically more likely to succeed academically. He said the first phase of the plan includes replacing some of the existing residential buildings, Winslow Dining Hall and the possible addition of apartment-type buildings.
Traditional residence halls will be developed in the current residential complex on the north side of Chestnut Street. Turner said that by locating traditional housing in closer proximity to each other, the focus will be on undergraduate students; opportunities will be provided for enhanced programming for undergraduates, particularly freshmen and sophomores; and residence halls will be in a closer proximity to the primary dining hall, allowing it to serve a broader residential student population.
When developed, new apartments could be located primarily on the south side of Chestnut Street near the footprints of R.H. White and Regents halls, Turner said. He said this would keep the focus on graduate students and undergraduate juniors and seniors and that closer proximity to the “campus core” should help ensure good occupancy. It is also expected to provide better programming opportunities for the target students, and the location would be well-suited “for retail options that could enhance town and gown relations,” Turner said.
Brailsford & Dunlavey first issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in March 2020 and received 10 responses the following month. In May of that year, the firm awarded three pre-qualified developers for consideration in the request for proposals (RFP), and the firm completed and issued the RFP on Sept. 27. Turner said pre-bid meetings were held with developers on Oct. 13 and 14, and the proposals were received from all three developers on Nov. 8. The developer and team proposals were presented to committee members on Nov. 16 and 17, he said.
Turner said Brailsford & Dunlavey expected to obtain clarification and responses to open questions from the developer presentations in mid-December, and will then continue to work on narrowing the design, scope and financing options with the involved teams. In early January 2022, the firm will decide on the best and final offer (BAFO) shortlist and request BAFOs. Later that month, the firm will evaluate the BAFOs and will negotiate a letter of intent (LOI) and agree to key terms in early February.
On March 11, Brailsford & Dunlavey will seek approval from the Board of Regents to the LOI and key terms and expects to finalize the pre-development agreement (PDA) in early May. By June 1, the firm expects to have received approval from the state, and it will seek approval from the Board of Regents for the final contract on June 3. After that, construction will begin, Turner said.
As Turner completed his report, Board Vice Chair Don Tharpe noted that the decisions related to the public/private partnership next year will have a major impact on the university for decades, and since none of the regents will be on the board in 20 years, they need to be very careful about the risk they take on. Murray State President Bob Jackson agreed, saying the board and university are engaging in a very important process and it is important they get it right.