Client story

UC Riverside achieves affordable student housing with a P3

University of California, Riverside, created a public-private partnership to bring 800 new beds and a dining hall to campus


Public-private partnership


Riverside, California


6,000 beds | 830 dining hall seats

Located in scenic Inland Southern California, the University of California, Riverside (UCR) is surrounded by the natural beauty of desert, mountain and coastal destinations—as well as some of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. Enrollment has skyrocketed in recent years—as has the need for affordable student housing, given that 60 percent of the student body receives financial aid. As the university embarked on an ambitious building program to accommodate growth, a fresh approach to affordable student housing was essential.

Nationwide, more than a third (36 percent) of college students lack stable housing, while 9 percent are homeless, according to researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. Affordable housing is essential for helping students not only enter college, but actually graduate—which is why the University of California has been expanding housing options statewide.

On that front, UCR’s ambition is to replace an obsolete 75-year-old on-campus family housing development with a new master planned community. The new community, to be built in multiple phases and projects across 50 acres, ultimately will add to 6,000 beds of student housing, dining facilities and recreational sports facilities. First up are a freshman dormitory and dining hall.

Financing the first phase of the project was another matter. UCR is among the state universities looking to public-private partnerships as a means of augmenting state funding for affordable student housing. With regard to student living, working with a private sector partner would not only help finance essential projects, but also would provide UCR leaders with access to private sector innovations, leading practices and expertise.

UCR partnered with JLL to analyze the feasibility of the vision for the first phase, and to collaborate with diverse stakeholders to establish the design, construction, operations and maintenance outcomes for the project. Armed with these project essentials, UCR was equipped to develop, package and manage a sophisticated two-stage request for proposals (RFP) solicitation for a private development partner.

Keeping the project costs down was fundamental for the ultimate goal of keeping housing affordable for students. With this essential outcome top of mind, UCR analyzed multiple potential development scenarios and financial models, including both tax-exempt and private equity structures. Ultimately, a team comprising UCR executives, staff, faculty and students selected American Campus Communities as the development partner.

With JLL serving as its representative, UCR negotiated a complex agreement with American Campus Communities that encompasses the financing strategy, design and performance, and other important outcomes. Now the team has begun the painstaking process of completing entitlements, final design and launching the construction of its first two projects.

The Dundee Residence Hall for freshmen will add over 800 new beds to the campus, while the 830-seat Glasgow Dining Hall adds more dining options. When fall 2020 rolls around, UCR will welcome students with open arms—doors to hundreds of new rooms and an attractive new spot for dining and socializing.