Dartmouth Seeks Developer to Build Graduate Housing

A call for proposals from private developers is being made public today.

Dartmouth is seeking a private developer to build apartments that would house more than 300 graduate and professional students on property the College owns on Mt. Support Road in neighboring Lebanon, N.H.

A call for proposals from developers interested in the approximately $50 million project is being made available today. Proposals are due by June 11 and College officials hope to select a developer by the end of the summer. Once a developer has been selected, planning and design work will begin and the developer will begin working to obtain the local permits needed to build the project.

“We are responding to a need that our graduate students have been communicating to us. They want to rent quality housing at an affordable rate,” says Executive Vice President Rick Mills. “Our goal is to provide as many new, high-quality apartments as possible and to do that as expeditiously as possible to help ease the chronic housing shortage in Hanover and neighboring communities.”

The plan would have a developer design, permit, build, operate, and own the apartment complex and lease the 53-acre parcel on which the complex would sit from the College. The property, which is about three miles from campus, is located on the west side of Mt. Support Road, just over a mile from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

This would be the second major project in which the College is seeking to tap the expertise of a private partner to finance, build, and own a Dartmouth development, enabling the institution to focus its resources on its core educational mission. The first such undertaking is the $200 million Dartmouth Green Energy Project, which would have a developer build a biomass heating facility and hot water transmission system to replace the aging existing central heating system. College officials are currently evaluating the first round of proposals for that project.

This type of private partnership originated between industry and municipal and public higher education institutions. Often referred to as P3 projects, they are becoming popular in higher education for both public and private institutions, says Josh Keniston, vice president for institutional projects, who is managing both the Green Energy Project and the graduate housing development.

“Working with private partners to deliver projects like graduate student housing and our Green Energy Project allows us to tap into industry experience to deliver high-quality projects quickly and in an economically responsible way,” says Keniston.

The proposed complex, which would have about 300 units, could house more than one graduate or professional student in an apartment, or be home to one student and family members. Graduate and professional school students would have priority in renting the units. Unrented units would be offered to College faculty and staff, and then to Dartmouth-Hitchcock employees and the general public. The College wouldn’t pay to develop or build the project, with rents paid by tenants to the developer.

Focus groups conducted with Dartmouth graduate and professional school students have shown that students are interested in housing near campus, within walking distance or on public transportation routes. The Mt. Support Road property is on the Advance Transit blue line and the developer would be expected to provide enhanced transportation options to and from campus.

The Sachem Village neighborhood, which the College built and owns, is currently the largest development for graduate students. Located off Route 10 in Lebanon, it has 255 units with a total of 527 beds in one-, two-, and three-bedroom dwellings. The Mt. Support Road project could have as many as 600 beds in the approximately 300 units. Currently, about 30 percent of Dartmouth’s more than 2,000 graduate and professional students live in College-owned housing.

Those interested in information on the Mt. Support Road request for proposals can contact Sandy Tierney at McCall & Almy (www.mccallalmy.com or 617-542-4141). The Boston-based real estate advisory firm is a consultant to Dartmouth on the project.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at  [email protected].