After a day of attending lectures and labs or cheering on a championship sports team, an increasing number of LSU students head home to newly built, contemporary apartment-style housing without ever leaving campus.
As part of its master plan to expand and update student housing, LSU is developing nearly 2,000 new bedrooms of on-campus student housing and redeveloping approximately 2,850 existing beds, along with construction of a satellite recreation center, an 808-space parking deck and 40,000 square feet of retail space that caters to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. The project also has created a significant new gateway to the university’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge.
AT A GLANCE
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The development is the result of an innovative public-private partnership between LSU and the Provident Group-Flagship Properties, a Baton Rouge-based company serving as lead developer, to design, build, finance and operate new on-campus student residences. Using a private partner enabled LSU to proceed with the project more efficiently and to achieve significant cost savings.
Integral to the project’s success is support from the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority (LPFA), which has provided nearly $400 million in bonds to finance construction across three phases of development for student housing and associated facilities. Established in 1974, the LPFA serves as a statewide conduit issuer of bonds for nonprofit organizations and businesses prohibited by tax laws from directly selling tax-exempt bonds to finance their projects. Celebrating its 45th year anniversary, the LPFA has issued more than $27 billion in bonds and has created more than 327,000 jobs for Louisiana.
In summer 2019, LSU began construction on the final of three phases of the student housing plan. Known as the Greenhouse District, this phase includes construction of two five-story buildings that will add 881 new bedrooms in total, as well as demolition of the 52-year-old Kirby Smith Hall dorm and existing greenhouses. The LPFA provided $80.6 million in bonds for phase three.
The first phase included the mixed-use Nicholson Gateway development, a 28-acre site across the street from Tiger Stadium that opened in 2018 and created 763 new bedrooms, providing housing for more than 1,500 students. Among the retailers in the mixed-use development are Matherne’s, restaurants and a dry-cleaner. Phase two of the master plan included construction of the 405-bed Cedar Hall, which will replace Kirby Smith.
“The LPFA is delighted to partner with LSU, a longstanding client, on this innovative financing in order to update its student housing units and enhance the student learning experience,” says Martin Walke, CEcD, LPFA’s vice president of economic and program development.
LPFA helps college-bound students in other ways, as well. Through its education division, the Louisiana Education Loan Authority (Lela), LPFA provides students and their parents with valuable college planning. Lela representatives guide high school students and their parents through the complex process of applying for grants, scholarships and financial aid. In 2019, Lela provided information to more than 35,000 students. More than 400,000 students have received assistance since Lela’s creation in 1984.
Further, Lela’s student loan refinancing program, RefiHELP, provides relief for students and parents who are locked into paying federal or private student loans at high interest rates or making monthly payments on multiple loans. Lela’s RefiHELP offers refinancing with no origination fees, zero capitalized interest, flexible repayment options and new fixed rates as low as 3.5 percent.
By providing the means for qualifying projects and entities to receive tax-exempt financing and achieve interest cost savings, the LPFA supports economic and community development across the state. As a self-supporting authority that operates solely on self-generated revenues, the LPFA has never requested or received any tax or other appropriation from the state of Louisiana for its operations. The LPFA’s operating expenses are covered through revenues generated by fees on bonds it has issued.