Texas A&M System Regents Approve Leasing Out Land To Private Development

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas Texas A&M is taking a different approach when it comes to building new dorms on campus.

System regents voted this weekend to lease university land to private developers to build several dorms that will sleep more than 4,000 students.

New legislation went into effect this month making it possible for the A&M System to lease and sell property.

Texas A&M is letting private development pay the cost of building new dorms and a new office building.

By August 2015 the first phase of 1,800 dorm room beds is expected to be open for students where a university garden currently sits.

Private development is spending $225 million to start.

Texas A&M is entering a new era of managing their real estate.

A new look is coming to University Drive in College Station.

"We think it's gonna transform west campus," said Phillip Ray, the Chief Business Development Officer for the Texas A&M System.

Ray showed us plans to add a handful of dorms that will sleep 4,000- plus students in phases along Discovery Drive.

Private development will pay for the project.

"Texas A&M will continue to operate, set the rates , be responsible fro the programmatic activities. So we've gone out and recruited and they're going to the private firm is more of a custom home builder if you will and Texas A&M University will retain all net proceeds of the development," Ray said.

There are also plans for a new $85 million Discovery Center of labs, office space and even a restaurant along University Drive and Discovery Drive through another public-private partnership.

New legislation allowing Texas A&M to sell and even lease their land out was passed by State Representative John Raney.

"I think all of us are free enterprise people and I think this is an extension of free enterprise to a certain degree. But I sure don't want to do anything to hurt the small business man. I am one," said State Rep. John Raney, (R) Bryan.

While Representative Raney hasn't heard any comments yet from business people concerned about the change, developer Jack Culpepper of Stalworth Real Estate Services says it will make for new challenges competing against A&M.

"I think it's a smart move on their part but from a small business owner's viewpoint and somebody's that's going to be competing against such a large complex, it'll make our life a little bit tougher," Culpepper said.

Groundbreaking on both projects could start as fast as the next 45 to 60 days.

The university is also planning on using the same process to redo the Corps Dorms in just a year or two.

It's something they say would be more than seven years out if not for these new public-private partnerships.