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Florida A&M expects to close on USDOE loan in March; break ground on residence hall in April (436 hits)

Photo: A conceptual rendering for 700-bed residence hall planned for Florida A&M University.
A conceptual rendering for 700-bed residence hall planned for Florida A&M University. (Photo11: Special to the Democrat)

Florida A&M University expects to close March 4 on a more than $100-million federal loan to build a new residence hall, dining facility and provide money to reduce current housing debt.

Archie Bouie, associate vice president for administrative and financial services, said Tuesday the original closing date of Feb. 15 changed since his January update to the Board of Trustees.

But the change in dates has no impact on the university’s expected approval of the loan through the U.S. Department of Education’s Historically Black Colleges and University Capital Financing Program. The USDOE was not affected by the federal shutdown.

“Closing dates through the HBCU Capital Finance Program are determined by the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Finance Bank,” Bouie said in an email. “The closing will happen on March 4th and we will have a new 700-bed residence hall by Fall 2020."

The $123-million loan will be used to build a 700-bed residence hall and dining facility on the southern end of campus at a cost of approximately $68 million. The additional $55 million will be used to restructure the university’s debt on FAMU Village and for much-needed maintenance on existing student housing.

The new residence hall is planned near South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Osceola Street. It would feature two, four-story “H-shaped” buildings covering 182,000 square feet. Groundbreaking could begin in April.

It is estimated that 500 of the 700 new beds would be filled with current students, making 200 new beds available.

The university trustees decided last year the federal loan program was its best option in obtaining money for the building project and debt restructuring requests.

In March, trustees approved a pre-development agreement with Construct Two Group, an Orlando company chaired by FAMU alumnus Derrick Wallace.

Also in March, Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 1712, giving FAMU trustees the option to seek construction financing through the federal program.

In September, the Board of Governors approved a resolution requesting the Division of Bond Finance within the State Board of Administration issue $125 million in revenue bonds so FAMU can proceed with obtaining a loan from the federal government.

The approval came with strict conditions placed on the university, initially including monthly reports on finance details, construction schedules and other progress updates.

It also restricts the money from being used for non-housing projects. FAMU would not be able to enter new partnerships for other construction until the project is completed.

The university crossed its final hurdle toward the closing in December when the Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the bond financing.

“With an extremely aged student housing portfolio, our students deserve a more appropriate student experience,” Bouie said. “Through the HBCU Capital Finance Program, we’re able to give the student the living experience they deserve and doing so in fiscally prudent manner.”

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

Author: Byron Dobson

FAMU iPresident Larry Robinson has said student housing is a top priority at the university. (Photo11: Alvin McBean/Democrat)

Posted By: Elly Moss
Wednesday, February 20th 2019 at 6:50PM
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