Stony Brook University officials, in an effort to address a chronic campus housing shortage, are seeking ideas for what may become the first public-private housing development on the 25,000-student campus.
University officials are expected to post a formal Request for Qualifications with the state Tuesday to find developers qualified to design, build, finance, operate and maintain housing, amenities and facilities in a multi-phase development plan that would include associated parking.
The “campus village,” as it is called in the document, would have market-rate housing for students and faculty as well as retail and dining on land owned by the university and leased to the developer. Ideally, officials said, the village would be located on Stony Brook’s main 1,367-acre campus, but they are not ruling out opportunities off-campus.
“There’s one thing I’m sure of: If we build it, we will fill it,” said Robert Megna, SBU’s senior vice president for administration and finance. “We want development that pays for itself from outside developers, but are also affordable options for our students and our young faculty.”
The university’s request, known as a RFQ, comes less than three weeks after two people were injured in the Aug. 26 collapse of a wooden deck in the backyard of an East Setauket home. The incident involving the 10-foot-high desk occurred during a party attended by about 400 people — many believed to be university students, officials have said.
That brought renewed concern from residents about undergraduates living in off-campus rental houses.
The new initiative aims to create a public-private partnership that builds a pedestrian-friendly environment, taking advantage of current infrastructure and expanding use of available open space. If constructed on campus, the university would provide the developer with a ground lease lasting 20 to 75 years depending on the contract’s terms, according to a draft version of the document.
The request was to be filed with the New York State Contract Reporter, the official publication for private firms seeking to do business with state agencies, public authorities and public benefit corporations.
The student housing crunch has existed for at least 20 years despite Stony Brook’s efforts, which include adding 2,000 new dorm rooms over 15 years; converting multipurpose space into student rooms; assigning three students to a room rather than two; bussing students to campus from dorms on the former Dowling College aviation campus in Shirley; and limiting the number of semesters that undergraduates can live on campus.
Currently, there are 10,012 students living on the main campus, with about 400 on a wait-list for a bed. About 290 students will live in the Brookhaven Residential Village, Stony Brook’s name for the leased space at the Dowling-owned site.
On Saturday, about 300 students moved into the university’s latest campus housing project, called Toll Drive. The $170 million project, when completed, will have 759 beds of new residence-hall capacity and a 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art dining facility.
Phase I, which began construction in July 2014, is complete. Phase II is scheduled to be finished in January.
Another campus housing project, a building that is part of the West Apartments complex, is slated to go out to bid by the end of the year. It will take about 18 months to build and is scheduled to open in the fall semester of 2018.
The school now is creating residential space for another 70 to 80 students by repurposing common space in older dorm buildings, university officials said.
In recent years, Town of Brookhaven officials have cracked down on landlords illegally renting single-family homes to Stony Brook students. The enforcement prompted a dramatic drop in the number of off-campus rentals and compounded the on-campus housing shortage.
“Not every student wants to live on campus, but there aren’t really any options,” said Dallas Bauman, assistant vice president for campus residences, who has worked at the university for 35 years.
Freshmen who apply for campus housing by the summer deadline are guaranteed a placement. In the junior and senior years, he said, moving off-campus is “part of the transition to independence.”
However, because the off-campus housing environment is so difficult for Stony Brook students, the school must provide more housing for students in their junior and senior years than other similar universities. Of the students in university housing, 40 percent are upperclassmen, Bauman said; at comparable schools, that number is 15 percent to 20 percent.