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CSU acquires apartments for student housing

There will be more options for student housing at Clayton State University for the fall semester, according to a university spokesman.

John Shiffert said the CSU Foundation Real Estate II, LLC closed on the purchase of the Clayton Place apartment complex on North Lake Drive in Morrow, on June 29, for $20.5 million.

The foundation purchased the property from Education Realty Trust, of Memphis, Tenn., he said.

This adds 854 beds for student housing at the university, and 16.79 acres to the 175-acre campus, he explained.

"The acquisition of the Clayton Place complex was an integral part of our facilities master-planning process adopted this past year, added Tim Hynes, president of Clayton State University. "With the addition of these additional student housing units, we will be able to accelerate the work already begun at Laker Hall to integrate student living with learning experiences."

Shiffert said Clayton Place will be renamed Clayton Station Apartment complex and will officially open in August. The complex will house students above the freshman level. Laker Hall will continue to house freshmen. The combination of Clayton Station and Laker Hall will provide a total of 1,305 beds, he said.

The apartments, said Shiffert, will operate as part of student housing through a lease agreement with the university. According to Shiffert, the complex has 15 buildings, and a total of 221 units. There are 206, four-bedroom and four-bathroom units, as well as, 15 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units. The apartments are currently furnished, and will continue to be furnished for students. Utilities are currently provided in the cost, he said.

Randy Hayes, chairman of the CSU Foundation Real Estate II, LLC, said the acquisition was necessary to meet the demand for additional student housing at Clayton State. "The Clayton State University Foundation formed the [CSU Foundation Real Estate II] LLC to provide the university with a way to meet the demand for student housing generated the growth of the university," said Hayes.

Reda Rowell, development director for the university, said she serves as a liaison between Clayton State and the CSU Foundation Real Estate II, LLC. The Clayton State University Foundation is a non-profit organization, she explained.

"The mission of the ... foundation is to assist Clayton State University attracting financial and other resources to achieve the university's mission and goals to educate students, support faculty and staff, and to increase community awareness," said Rowell. She said there is a renovation-and-upgrade plan for the complex that will be conducted in phases.

Rowell added that the private-public partnership between the CSU Foundation Real Estate II, LLC, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Development Authority of Clayton County, allowed the foundation to purchase $25.5 million in bonds. Only $20.5 million was used for the purchase, and the rest will be used for areas such as the renovation. The bonds will be paid back through the students' lease payments, she said.

"It is a great way to add to the campus and utilize bonds, and not taxpayers' money," said Rowell.

The apartment complex was built in two phases, said Shiffert. In 1998, Phase I was constructed at the intersection of Clayton State Boulevard and North Lake Street in Morrow, Place Properties, a designer and developer of college and university housing. The first phase included 10 buildings, with 480 beds and 120 completely furnished four-bedroom, four bathroom-units.

Phase II was built in Lake City, in 2004, said Shiffert. The second phase added five buildings to the complex, which included 86 four-bedroom, four-bathroom units and 15 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units. This provided the community with 374 more beds, he said.

Rowell added that the property was initially privately owned Place Properties and was eventually sold to Education Realty Trust.

"For students, it means the university will own and operate it," said Rowell.