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UT building three new dorms, signs lease agreement with South Knoxville apartment complex

The University of Tennessee said the new dorms would be built through a "public-private partnership" with RISE Real Estate, based in Georgie.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee said Monday they would build three new dorms, adding 2,500 beds for students by 2026.

They said all three dorms would be built through a "public-private partnership" with RISE Real Estate, based in Valdosta, Georgia. It is the first housing public-private partnership approved at a university in Tennessee.

All three of the new dorms are expected to be seven stories tall, and two are planned in areas adjacent to current university housing — one along Andy Holt Avenue and another on Caledonia Avenue. The third will be built adjacent to Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

"We have a record retention rate and record demand and interest in the University of Tennessee," said Frank Cuevas, vice chancellor for the Division of Student Life. "This will help us meet those needs and also modernize some of our older (housing) inventory on campus."

The dorm on Andy Holt Avenue will include 750 beds and is expected to cost around $70 million. They said the dorm on Caledonia Avenue is expected to have more than 1,100 beds and cost around $110 million. 

"We have a record 8,000+ beds on campus. This will be on top of that," Cuevas said. "We're able to build it faster and quicker to meet the demand to really support the student experience on campus."

Both dorms are expected to house first-year students and second-year students and to be open for the fall 2025 semester. Both will have fully-furnished one-bedroom and two-bedroom suite-style units and will include office space for staff and lounge space for students.

Credit: UTK

The third dorm is expected to be built adjacent to Lindsey Nelson Stadium and is expected to be open for the fall 2026 semester. It will include around 750 apartment-style beds and is meant to be for continuing students. It will feature two-bedroom and four-bedroom furnished apartments with common space on the ground floor meant to complement UT Baseball facilities. UT said it is expected to have an indoor practice facility and is expected to cost around $129 million.

"It adds to the number of units that are under construction and allows people who might not have been able to find housing on campus, to live on campus and not be in that student market or the private rental market," said Hancen Sale, government affairs and policy director for the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors. "We're probably not going to see price declines or rent declines, but we're certainly going to see growth in rents slowed dramatically, particularly as we start to see all these new units hit the market."

All three new buildings are expected to have similar architectural designs which include full-brick roofs and similar roof colors. They are also expected to have electronic card readers with cameras throughout the building. There will also be emergency call stations near the buildings, according to the request for proposals with UT and RISE.

The projects are expected to be funded through a "ground lease structure," in which UT holds onto ownership of the land while RISE builds the facilities. The company and a nonprofit group, Provident Resources Group, would then own the project facilities for the term of the ground lease. 

"The ground lease will include terms providing the university the option to purchase the buildings at a later date," UT said in a release.

As of the 2021-2022 school year, apartment rates at UT were between $3,525 per semester and $7,050 per semester for students. Suite rates were between $3,025 per semester and $4,895 per semester.

They also said they found additional housing through a five-year master lease agreement with Lakemoor Station Apartments in South Knoxville, adding additional housing for students. they said that it will add 192 beds to University Housing's inventory in Aug. 2023, and additional units are under construction and are expected to come online in Jan. 2024.

Those beds will be available for upper-division students admitted for the spring semester, and for people who already have housing contracts and want a room change. They include furnished one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units staffed by a hall director, assistant hall direct and resident assistant staff.

The apartments are around five miles from campus along Alcoa Highway. A UT transit service that also serves Cherokee Farm Research Park will be available for students to go to and from the apartments.

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