UT International Office moves to different location

Diego Cruz

The International Office found a new home this summer after UT leased its old location to developers looking to erect a new apartment tower.

The Board of Regents signed a 60-year ground lease with Education Realty Trust, who will develop, own and manage a multi-family apartment complex at 2400 Nueces Street, said campus director of real estate Amy Wanamaker. The International Office is temporarily located at 2222 Rio Grande Street above Red Mango but will be permanently housed at the new complex upon completion.

Wanamaker said UT is demolishing Wooldridge Hall, the former home of the office and ground-leasing the location to the student-housing developer after determining this was the most profitable use of the land asset.

UT leased the location so the firm would develop the property and return profit at minimal risk to UT, she said.

“They have 50 years of experience in higher education student housing development, and we thought they would be a good fit for the University,” Wanamaker said.

With an increasing student population there is a growing need for housing, said Education Realty Trust spokeswoman Susan Jennings.
Jennings said the firm was designing an apartment community that would appeal to different people, including graduate students and faculty.

“[The] main priorities were to take some of the textures and colors from the existing historical architecture of the campus and repeat them in this building to make a nice transition into the neighborhood,” she said.

Jennings said construction follows the guidelines of the University Neighborhood Overlay, designed by the city to allow for dense development in the West Campus area.

The $63.9 million project will include 306 units ranging from studios to four-bedrooms, a parking garage, a swimming pool, a rooftop patio and ground-level retail space, she said.

Construction will begin in the next few months and continue until summer 2013, Jennings said.

Wooldridge Hall was originally built in the 1880s but was so heavily rebuilt over the following 45 years that it was no longer the same building, said UT spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon.

“The building didn’t have elevators. There were structural problems with the roof, and so the regents ended up making the decision to go this direction,” Weldon said.

The International Office was located in Wooldridge since December 2004 and had been told multiple times that UT intended to move them since, said Candace Shye, an executive assistant for the office.

Shye said the staff is generally positive about the move, considering the old building had rain leaks, sinking floor tiles, dripping air-conditioning units, overflowing sinks and even a six-month rat infestation.

“Generally we’re all very happy that we moved over here, and I think, for the most part it was a smooth transition,” she said.

Once the apartment construction is finalized in August 2013, the International Office will relocate to the office space in the first two stories of the complex, she said.

Printed on Thursday, July 28, 2011 as: International Office moves to Rio Grande temporarily