Homebuilder, LDS Church to bring hundreds of new homes to the U. of U.

Over the next century, thousands of prospective University of Utah students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be comfortably housed on campus and well cared for while they study, thanks to a special land deal expected to generate $1 billion in student aid.

You’ll live in Ivory University House, a 552-unit green space community spread across four buildings on the southwest corner of South Campus Drive and Mario Capecchi Drive, a lively intersection on a car-centric campus as desperate as the Rest of Salt Lake City for new homes.

An aging Latter-day Saint chapel was demolished and scrapped from the site, which was filled with enthusiastic crowds, building materials and red-and-white balloons draped over digging equipment on Friday, ready for a groundbreaking ceremony.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Clark Ivory at the cornerstone ceremony for the Ivory University House at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 13, 2022.

The project at approximately 1780 E. South Campus Drive will comprise 5.6 acres of the approximately 31 acres owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is billed as a gift given thanks to an innovative collaboration between the U., the Church and the Clark and Christine Ivory Trust.

For nearly 10 years, big wheels have been turning towards the newest U. student housing development, and by 2023 the first building for a unique, permanently funded housing complex will be constructed at Utah’s flagship university.

The apartments, designed as luxury digs by most standards, with well-appointed features, common areas, courtyards, an attention to safety and well-being, and plenty of student support, are also being developed so that the proceeds can be donated to provide financial support for generate many of the students who live in it.

“It’s going to be cool, a great place to live,” said Clark Ivory, a former U. grad and former CEO, but the upscale studio apartments “won’t be full of wealthy kids.

“It is our goal,” he said, “to ensure that at least 25% of the students at Ivory University House come from the most financially disadvantaged families.” Those children will also receive housing benefits to help them live there, he confirmed the U.

“We can’t wait to see them blossom,” said Ivory, who also runs Ivory Homes, Utah’s largest homebuilder. He added that as housing is “a critical need during the pandemic,” the family’s charitable foundation “is now prioritizing student housing.”

Keeping students on campus – with more living space

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah President Taylor Randall at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ivory University House in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 13, 2022.

But a visibly pleased U. President, Randall Taylor, quipped to a crowd of church leaders, property managers, U. administrators and elected officials gathered at Friday’s event to celebrate: “Wait! There’s more!”

He called Ivory University House “truly innovative” and “more than just a housing project” — while Taylor said he worried daily about students on a housing waitlist of 3,400 names, with about 4,400 units on campus and 1,682 that to be built by 2024.

The partnerships behind Ivory University House are aimed squarely at alleviating that crisis, Taylor said, as the U. seeks to evolve from a “commuter campus” to a new, more livable model loosely dubbed the “college town.” .

(Image courtesy of the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation, via Salt Lake City) A view of Ivory University House, a 552-unit student housing complex under construction at approximately 1780 E. South Campus Drive at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Students who commit to living on campus do 10% better, the US president added – “trust me on that” – saying the 552 new rooms at Ivory University House are an important step to make this long-term change.

The key players behind the new housing project have toured the country in recent years in search of the right financing model to make it a reality and make it permanent, which Salt Lake City’s Erin Mendenhall described as one of its most distinctive features, along with the creation of a pipeline of inspirations to future thinkers and leaders.

“Think about the ongoing and catalytic projects they will create in Utah and around the world,” the mayor said. “This is more than affordable housing, so much more.”

The role of the LDS Church in the project

All but a few children among the approximately 150 attendees at Friday’s event are likely to survive through the project’s funding approach and the philanthropy behind it.

The LDS Church is essentially donating the former chapel site for 99 years in a so-called leasehold on a property that Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé described as “so strategic for the campus.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ivory University House at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 13, 2022.

When the idea was born, it enabled Churchland to play a key role in “a vision that will bless so many lives,” Caussé said, with a quality, spiritually inspiring and safe environment, “and also a place for people to find a motivating environment that helps them to continue their studies.”

Caussé portrayed the living environment as a kind of fine living and said Church President Russell Nelson, also a U. graduate, and other Latter-day Saint leaders were “excited about it” and found the project inspiring.

“There’s full support there,” said Caussé, who oversees the faith’s extensive financial, real estate, investment and charitable activities.

The Ivory Trust is donating $24 million toward an annuity that supports the long-term transaction — plus $6 million in seed funding for programs aimed at helping students living in the homes succeed in school — and of course that’s where the U comes in, too, with what’s being called “Complete U.”

This is a related plan being fueled by the ivory donations and being forged by the U. to keep more students on campus and in class year-round.

Overall, the deal underlying Ivory University House will provide money to help up to 50,000 students find housing over the years, and nearly twice that number will benefit from the resulting scholarships, housing grants and internships. By 2025, it will generate at least $1 million in student support annually, ultimately amounting to $1 billion over its lifetime.

Although the housing units follow the same general rules as other U. residences, they differ in other respects.

Smoking, drug and overnight bans will apply as in other residences, but the property will be privately owned by Ivory University House and operated by a property manager. Students entitled to stay in the studio apartments will sign annual leases. Three quarters of them pay market rents, while the other quarter receive housing benefits and other benefits.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Christine Ivory at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ivory University House at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 13, 2022.

The new housing will also be closely linked to new initiatives to help students, both financially and with a healthy living environment designed to help them thrive in a holistic way. The approach goes well beyond “just focusing on merit and money and things like that,” said Christine Ivory, wife of Clark Ivory and a partner in running the Family Trust.

She called it “a place where spiritual life is respected, academic pursuits are encouraged, psychological needs are addressed, and physical discipline is expected.”

The apartments will have private bathrooms, kitchenettes, large windows, hardwood floors and workspaces, she said. Each building will also have meeting rooms, a wellness center and activities such as meditation, yoga, art studios, an arcade, a television, a kitchen and common areas and more.

“These are incredible amenities,” said Christine Clark, “I’d love to move in.” Homebuilder, LDS Church to bring hundreds of new homes to the U. of U.

Joel McCord

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