Construction to expand University housing, add retail space to campus
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will begin construction next week on a project to bring nearly 600 new beds and 5,000 square feet of retail space to campus.
The apartment complex is the latest step in UL Lafayette’s ongoing effort to expand and renovate on-campus student housing.
Once built, the facility will offer students a choice of two-, three-, and four-bedroom units. Each furnished apartment will have a full kitchen, and washer and dryer. Meal plans will be offered, but not required.
The complex will include five buildings with 591 beds on a 12-acre tract at the corner of Johnston and East Lewis streets. One of the buildings that will front that intersection will have 4,883 square feet of retail space on its first floor, with apartments on the second and third floors.
The complex’s outdoor recreation areas will include a swimming pool, sand volleyball court and grilling pavilion. A clubhouse will feature a fitness center, study and game rooms, and a lounge.
The facility is scheduled for completion by Fall 2019.
Plans include 632 parking spaces for residents, guests and retail customers. More than half of the spaces will be located on the east side of Coulee Mine, which runs through the tract. A new pedestrian bridge will connect the properties.
The University acquired the Youth Park in 2012 when it sold its former horse farm – now Moncus Park – to Lafayette Consolidated Government.
The dog park, skate bowl, dirt bike track and ball field on the site will be eliminated. A restroom building, set of bleachers, and some maintenance and storage facilities will be removed.
“The agreement when the University acquired the park property from the city was that as long as we did not have plans to develop the site, the dog park and skate bowl could stay temporarily. But obviously, the housing project will affect them,” said Bill Crist, UL Lafayette’s director of Facility Management.
The University allowed public use of the Youth Park during the design phase of the student apartment complex and as plans to develop Moncus Park were finalized. The Youth Park will close May 9.
Dog owners have alternatives to Youth Park’s dog park. LCG built a new dog park in Brown Park in Upper Lafayette, for example.
Also, Lafayette Central Park Inc. is including a dog park in Phase I of the Moncus Park construction that recently got underway. Phase 1 is expected to be finished in 2019.
LCG also maintains a dog park at Graham Brown Memorial Park, 1234 E. Pont Des Mouton Road. LCG may add another pooch playground at Beaullieu Park, 411 W. Bluebird Drive, later this year.
Cajun BMX Park, a 1,200-foot, all-dirt public bicycle racing track, recently opened at Picard Park in Milton, Louisiana.
The ball field at Youth Park is no longer in use; teams play at other city-parish facilities.
“We’re considering options for an alternative to losing the skate bowl,” said Aaron Martin, the University’s chief communications officer.
UL Lafayette currently can accommodate 3,180 students in its residence halls. The complex's additional 600 beds would enable nearly a quarter of its student population to live on campus.
Residents of the new apartments will range from sophomores to graduate students.
Construction of the five buildings on the site is anticipated to cost $48 million. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors has approved the expenditure of up to $105 million if the University chooses to expand the apartment complex on this site.
The project will be financed through a partnership with the private, nonprofit Ragin’ Cajuns Facilities Inc.
Ragin’ Cajun Facilities Inc. maintains funds needed to design and build student housing and other University-related construction projects. It qualifies for tax-exempt status because it is a nonprofit. Bond funding enables the University to construct facilities without having to compete for state capital outlay funds.
RISE Real Estate, formerly known as Ambling University Development Group, is project developer of the new apartment complex. Niles Bolton Associates is the architect, and The Lemoine Company is the general contractor.
Contractors working on the project are expected to comply with all city noise ordinances, according to Crist.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Niles Bolton Associates