UH’s New Off-Campus Private Dorm

Only Cougars allowed: Prime Property is reporting that Fountain Residential, a Dallas developer, will build, own, and operate this residential complex for students immediately southwest of the University of Houston campus. The 5-story, 347-bed dorm being called The Vue on MacGregor — which will indeed provide a vue of Brays Bayou — will be up by the fall semester of 2014, standing where there’s now a boarded-up gas station at the corner of S. MacGregor and Calhoun. This is just one of the many projects underway on campus, as the Robertson Stadium replacement continues to go up, along with another residence hall, student apartments, and a restaurant and retail space near Elgin St.

Rendering: 5G Studio Architects

29 Comment

  • Disclaimer – I’m a proud alum of UH with both a BBA and an MS from there. And I contribute regularly.
    This project is nice and all. And I’m glad to see progress being made at UH. But this project is just one more in a series of “improvements” that drive up costs for students who are already incurring huge amounts of debt. Currently the trend at universities is for upscale residences. When I was there, it was for giant rec and fitness centers. Yet neither furthers a university’s educational mission. Its all about appearances for customers (students) who won’t contemplate price and its associated debt (tuition, fees, and room/board), but will contemplate how cool the residences and rock wall are at UH vs A&M. This development is nice, and will help attract better quality students to UH. But it’s sad that the amenities arms race many universities are engaged in will ultimately, through their debt burdens, hurt the ones they purport to serve – the students.

  • Agreed, universities are too expensive and cuddling up to developers that are blowing too much cheap money just becasue they can borrow it. Better have first floor retail

  • While I am not a UH graduate, and don’t contribute to them, Walt makes important points here.

    The distinguishing characteristic of this project seems to be that it is not a UH project, but private money seeking to entice some UH students – those with some money? – to reside in their nice building. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that. The students should have enough sense to live in a place that matches their budget.

    What the university spends out of its budget is another story – the oil and gas “consultant” professor who flies first class and stays in the most expensive hotels comes to mind. That needs to be watched with a sharp eye, and managed to keep programs affordable for students.

  • Considering a “Dallas developer, will build, own, and operate this residential complex” I say “Go Coogs!”.

    Class of 1995!

  • it’s a private dorm

  • I did go to UH and it was always mostly commuter college. The Moody Towers for on site residents were always depressing looking.
    Given the new location and the wilderness that lies just to the north, are they planning to put up electrified barbed wire fence with a mote around it full of sharks with laser beams on their freackin heads?

  • The developers are Rice and SMU grads…Go Owls! Go Mustangs!

  • @Walt this is a private developers project has nothing to do with UH money. No one is going to force students to stay here. If students stay here its by their choice and their money.

  • This is a private development being built OFF campus. This has nothing to do with UH’s budget. It is reflective of the changing student profile. Keep rising, UH!

  • @John – I awknowledge that this is a private development and that no one is forcing students to stay there. But this development, and similar ones, does raise the standard of what students expect while attending a school. So what will happen next is that students who are staying in UH owned housing will expect UH to improve the conditions in campus housing to be comparable to surrounding private offerings. And UH will accomodate them, for a fee, of course (see also the recently completed apartment style graduate housing on campus). I don’t blame the developers for what they are doing. And I don’t blame UH for responding to what students want in the competitive marketplace. I just think its sad that students force universities to have these upscale accomodations (by choosing when they attend based, in part, on the presence these accomodations and amenities) and then complain that college is too expensive and blame others for the debt they incurred.

  • At my undergrad, the dorms were somewhere between Stalin era Soviet housing projects and Cabrini Green. Everyone who did not commute had to live in the dorm freshman year. After that, we all ran with futons on our backs to rent off-campus housing. UH has almost no off-campus housing options within walking distance of campus. Students end up having to rent in the Galleria area (as I did when I went there for grad school) and driving to school. Having some options for off-campus housing will enable students who may not have transportation to have an option outside of the dorms. Dorms are fine the first year or two, but most college students want to live off campus thereafter. It is a good experience for college kids to have to deal with a landlord, security deposits, etc. for when the leave for the real world.

  • These types of private dorms have been available at major universities for decades.

    Just because certain people choose to pay for nicer accommodations off campus doesn’t mean the school has to get rid of cheaper housing. Just like regular apartments, there is always going to be a market for different price points.

  • @Walt ok. You have confused me. In your first post it seems like you were accusing universities and defending the students. Now it seems like your defending the universities and blaming the students. I personally don’t see what’s wrong with a university raising its standards, overall I think it will benefit the university. I mean its common sense that with higher standards come higher tuition and fees. If the tuition and fees are out of a persons range then go elsewhere no on is making them go to the university with high standards. There are plenty of other options TSU is next door and HCC is not to far away.

  • The bigger issue here is that students can use huge amounts of loan money to pay for this housing. 18 to 24 year olds don’t realize how hard it will be to repay those huge loans when they graduate (regardless of the quality of the school). True this is going on across the country, but I think most commentators agree it is awful and completely takes advantage of young people (to say nothing about how it handicaps the economy going forward).

  • John – I have no problems with a university raising standards – UH has needed to do that for years. What bothers me is the following cycle: University X constructs amenity A to attract students. Prospective students are attracted to University X by this new amenity. Students, not feeling the impact of borrowing for many years, gleefully accept the extra fee and debt to pay for amenity A at University X. University Y, wanting to keep up with tier 1 school X, feels compelled to construct amenity A so that they can compete with University X for the most talented students. X & Y just got more expensive while offering nothing of additional long term value (education) to the students (are there any Universities that don’t have awesome rec centers?). The universities have to do this or be left behind by their peers – I get it. And while the development in question above is private, it still fits into the narrative of nicer, more expensive amenities at universities. But in the process, the cost of education (whether paid to the university, or the upscale apartments next door) gets more and more expensive and their students incur more and more debt. Yes, the students are driving this competition by not being even a little bit price sensitive, but they are also the ones that will suffer for it.

    P.S. – TSU and HCC each have Rec Centers that , I presume, are paid for through student fees.

  • Walt raises excellent points. It’s hard to put a value on borrowing many thousands of dollars to be a mark for burglary, robbery, assault or worse. Because I’m sure this private developer will match UH’s commitment to keeping students safe……..
    I am an alum who is well pissed by the boosters who continue to brush campus and campus area crime under the rug. In the 80s at least then we were paying pennies on the dollar for the urban college experience of having off-campus people rob and assault students.

  • I lived in Harris Hall “Harris Hilton” at Southwest Texas State in 1982, no air condition and community showers in basement. I survived and got a bachelors degree with no carpet, no outdoor kitchen, and no granite. just weed and top ramin. This whole college resort theme park disney lifestyle is fantasy life and kids need to learn to be tough. I work my ass off in my lifetime of failures and comebacks as most of us here have. These kids need to learn to handle disappointment and improve themselves over and over and this type resort dorm isn’t conducive. I see a bubble burst coming in real estate after this fueled by cheap and reckless fed money printing is over. This is going to end ugly imo and it seems that interest rates are creeping up as is energy and food inflation. These dorms are doomed unless of course you build first floor retail and sell student acceptance slots to Chinese students that will pay $1308433848 per semester.

  • I wish UH had this kind of housing when I attended. In combination with the rail line connecting UH to downtown, on-campus living will get a lot better.

  • I am glad this is being built with private money, but the absurd things colleges do spend money on is a big problem.

    The department I graduated from at my alma mater sent out an email to its recent graduates asking for help with the $25,000 (????) necessary to wire up a television screen in a display case (that already existed) to display electronic flyers.

  • In the dark ages when I attended UH there were all sorts of (dumpy) apts. in the area. Cougar Apts. come to mind as well as old fourplex apts on Elgin. It’s probably a good thing they don’t exist anymore. But nothing picked up the slack when those bit the dust.

    Benny, UH needs ANY floor retail! Really that was my complaint then, and oh so many years later, it still is. There is not much retail (grocery stores?, or shops of any kind around UH (Rice Village anyone?) Especially before the rail, anyone without a car had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get anywhere/anything.

  • Great for the neighborhood. The gas station building is abandoned. Not clear if this development will also take out the two apartment buildings just to the west. I ride my bike on the bayou trail here, and those buildings are inhabited, but should be demolished. One of them literally has no roof – just tar paper blowing in the wind, and has been that way for several years now. That roof is going to cave in during a heavy rain one day and kill someone inside. I once saw a woman carrying a baby into the roofless building. Sad for that kid to have to live in those conditions.

  • We’re going to take issue with universities dropping millions on things like recreational facilities and dorm improvements (this being a private apartment notwithstanding)? What part of “competition” do we not understand? Do you think academics is the only concern a prospective student has when shopping for a college? I’ve tried to make this point about the larger fallacy upon which the whole “school choice” philosophy is based: what we think student-customers want is very often not all that they want. Being the pragmatic and no-b.s. kinds of people we are, we’re looking for more bang for our buck–especially if we’re just going to borrow the buck anyway. That piece of paper you receive at the end of it doesn’t amount to much more than your ticket to the corporate class. What is an education for, anyway? Self-improvement? Intellectual growth? Please. And if we have to play this charade of going to college and jumping through these hoops so we can secure the corner office some years down the road, at the very least, give us some racquetball courts and an Olympic-sized pool. If they don’t want the frills, there’s always the U. of Phoenix.

  • There is nothing more self-aggrandizing than a good old fashioned “Why, when I went to college, I lived in a dungeon under the campus power plant, and we were fed rat on saltine crackers!” story. Whatever it takes to make you feel superior/smarter/more industrious to “those kids these days” with their iphones and granite countertops (?!) Just be assured that people were saying the same about your generation when you were in college too. It’s the ciiiiiiiircle of life.

  • Also, congrats to UH for making huge strides with their campus and many academic programs. It’s a school that deserves recognition for what they’re doing and in the next 20 years will be looked at as another flagship state school. (As a UH Law Center alum, I’m also proud to see UHLC crack the top 50 in the US News rankings too).

  • Anse, I have no problem with competition between universities, I have a problem with the federally backed student loan structure that incentivizes universities to raise tuition insanely and build all sorts of fancy amenities.

  • I can only imagine many, many more apartment complexes will be coming to the UH/TSU area. The area along Scott has much land and cheap housing to be capitalized upon. The soon to arrive light rail will help the redevelopment process. Wait 10 years, the area will be unrecognizable.

  • “This whole college resort theme park disney lifestyle is fantasy life and kids need to learn to be tough.”

    In the real world there are no apartments that have shared showers like in dorms. Anyhow, children are growing up with fewer brothers and sisters and with more privacy.

  • Curiously, the developer must anticipate filling these units with UH students who crave “boutique” apartment style living. I’m guessing those students will have a way to afford them, in addition to the other expenses such as tuition, cars, etc. And I’m guessing we all know how that will be arranged: working and going to school and acquiring a ton of debt by graduation day. But hey, what’s $40-50K of crushing debt when you have bragging rights to a boutique apartment furnished stylishly, complete with a gym, etc. By all means, let’s exploit those kids with every carrot imaginable so they can graduate and be flattened by their own fiscal naivete and then pass that expense along to taxpayers.

  • Actually, I get the feeling that the kids living in these dorms won’t be graduating with any debt at all.