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New UK residence halls could bring 2,900 jobs

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto joined Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and other officials on Monday to talk about new residence halls, planned for the UK campus. They say the five halls, being built on campus over the next few years, could create 2,900 jobs and generate nearly $4 million in state and local taxes.

"We must and we will recruit the best students in the state and the region. We must produce the kind of exemplary undergraduate educational program that tells students there is no finer experience than at UK. And we must provide for our state the workforce that will build a vibrant, sustainable knowledge-based economy for the future," Capilouto said during a news conference at the New Central Residence Hall currently under construction. "The legislature's vision in authorizing this approach leverages our ability to do all of these things. At the same time, it could pave the way to the creation of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment in our community and state. As with the $579 million hospital tower we recently opened, this project underscores the critical role UK plays in Kentucky's current economic development efforts even as we chart a course forward in helping the Commonwealth create a vibrant, knowledge-based economy for the future."

Last year, the UK Board of Trustees approved plans to enter into a public-private partnership with Memphis-based EdR, one of the country's largest developers of collegiate housing, to build a $25.8 million, 601-bed modern residence hall on Haggin Field. It is the first building in what could be a five-to-seven year construction project to tear down and erect a new residence hall system, creating up to 9,000 beds on UK's campus. UK currently has about 6,000 residence hall beds, fewer than 700 of which are considered modern.

In October, the UK Board of Trustees will consider the first part of the project's next phase, the construction of four additional residence complexes, totaling 2,098 beds. If approved by the board, UK says the Phase II-A project would include $118 million in expenditures, support more than 2,300 direct and indirect jobs, and generate nearly $1 million in local taxes and nearly $2.2 million in state taxes.

In each case, EdR would construct and own residence halls on land leased to it by UK. Each phase of the project must be approved by the UK Board of Trustees.

The first residence hall, New Central, which is scheduled to open in August 2013, will house Honors students as well as classrooms and office space for faculty. It represents the first residence hall constructed on campus since 2005.

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