Washington University in St. Louis
U3A has assisted Washington University in St. Louis with several substantial portfolio analyses and planning projects. The firm prepared a housing plan for the University, involving a capital program analysis and evaluation of new housing development options. The plan is now being implemented, with new residential and mixed-use development commencing. U3A has also assisted the University prepare for a master planning process and develop a strategy for its administrative offices.
Retained in 2008, U3A assisted Washington University in addressing two sets of challenges posed by its portfolio of off-campus housing, which comprised more than 1,200 units and had historically operated at a financial loss. First, U3A conducted an analysis of the portfolio’s capital program, operating results, and projected capital needs to develop strategies to help the University reduce its losses in the short- term, while preserving long-term options for growth. Second, we helped the University to engage its aspirations for off-campus housing and to consider new ways of developing housing, potentially involving developer partnerships. To facilitate the University’s thinking about its housing mission, U3A conducted a benchmarking study of Wash U’s peers and examined best practices in the design, development, financing, and management of off-campus housing.
Building on the conclusions from this analysis, U3A assisted the University to complete a sustainable long-term plan for on- and off-campus housing, which dovetails with the University’s future plans for academic growth. U3A worked with a broad-based committee of deans and administrators to assist the University to articulate its housing priorities, which were informed by a housing demand study of undergraduate upperclassmen and graduate and professional students. U3A then assisted the University to develop, analyze, and compare multiple options for meeting the University’s current and future housing needs, assessing each option’s capital and operating costs. The final housing plan included a number of new development projects, land acquisition, and investments in retail, parks, and other amenities, together with recommendations for the University’s existing off-campus portfolio of 160 buildings. The housing plan has been endorsed by University leadership and is in the process of being implemented. The University recently completed development of the largest component of the plan, an $80 million residential and mixed-use project on the Delmar Loop.
Real Estate Plan
Working in concert with an architectural planning firm, U3A helped Washington University to prepare for a major master planning effort by engaging questions of the University’s long-range academic vision, need for growth, and realistic real estate options. The pre-master planning process focused around a series of intensive workshops with a group of senior administrators and deans. U3A led the evaluation of feasible real estate options that could accommodate the University’s 50-year growth needs, and prepared development analyses and market valuations of the University’s existing off-campus real estate.
Administrative Office Plan
In 2012, the University reengaged U3A to assist in developing and analyzing options for decanting non-essential administrative uses from the Danforth Campus. Building on the real estate and financial analysis completed as part of the Real Estate Plan, U3A evaluated myriad options involving redevelopment, renovation, and sale or lease of several off-campus properties. U3A analyzed total capacity against anticipated need over time, operating and capital costs, and funding strategies for each of the options.