The University of The Bahamas (UB) broke ground on a $95-million-dollar residence and multipurpose building yesterday morning.
The project, which Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis touted as one of the single largest investments in the Over-the-Hill community, has been years in the making. The facility will be constructed at the school’s Oakes Field campus, behind the main entrance.
“The Oakes Field campus is at the heart of several historic communities, which have played a vital role in the cultural, economic and political life of the country,” Minnis said.
He added, “Once completed, this university residence and multipurpose complex will help to revitalize surrounding communities, injecting new vitality and providing opportunities for community engagement and business investments.”
The mixed-use facility will include a 1,000-bed capacity for student residents; 400 parking stalls; more than 50,000 square feet of common areas including a fitness center, study rooms, a 200-seat dining hall, a 500-seat ballroom and a spiritual life center; a university village for leased retail, commercial and business operations; and faculty residences.
The building will be the result of a public-private partnership between UB and Providence Advisors Limited and Asset Campus International, an affiliate of the third-party student housing operator Asset Campus Housing, to design and construct the multipurpose area.
Providence Advisors Limited Chairman Julian Francis said Providence will fund the construction costs, and after 30 years of managing the complex, ownership will be handed over to the university at no cost.
“This $95 million facility will be 100 percent Bahamian owned, which includes significant ownership by the university,” he said.
“It will be managed privately under the responsibility of its board of directors, which will include representation from the university and the UB student government.
“The ownership and financing arrangement provides that at the end of 30 years of operations, full ownership of the facility will be transferred to the university at no cost.”
Minnis said the land will be leased to Providence for $100,000 per year, which will go to the university’s endowment. He said 20 percent of the profit from the facility will also go towards the endowment.
The new complex is also expected to drive increased enrollment and add to the overall attractiveness of the tertiary institution.
“I am advised that the university is planning for steady growth in student enrollment over the coming years, guided by a recently approved strategic plan,” Minnis said.
“Many of those future Bahamian and international students will be residents of this university residence.”
Minnis said the design and construction were modified based on climate change adaptation.
“Given the particular vulnerabilities posed by severe weather produced by Hurricane Dorian, the project team modified the design to mitigate against potential wind damage and flooding,” he said.
“Design and construction is based on climate change adaptation. Building for resilience was a fundamental consideration.”
Phase one of the project is anticipated to be completed by June 2021, and phase two is scheduled to be completed by November 2021.