Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) will break ground on a $12.6 million, 144-bed student apartment complex this month, with plans for it to be open for the Fall 2022 semester.
The apartments are phase two of an initiative the university launched three years ago called Project Foresight. The project encompasses eight acres and 30 properties on the southwest edge of the campus, including many that were vacant and deteriorated. Phase one of the project included leasing land to alumni-owned Pediatrics Plus, a children’s healthcare clinic. The company built an $8 million facility adjacent to OBU’s campus that opened in January 2021. It provides services to families with special needs, extends learning opportunities for Ouachita’s undergraduate students and serves as a clinical placement site for the university’s new Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis, a leading therapy for autism.
“Three years ago, we began dreaming and planning to transform our campus,” said Dr. Ben Sells, Ouachita president. “Ouachita is and will continue to be a place where each student lives, learns, worships and serves in community to uniquely become the person God intends in order to serve his purposes in their generation.”
OBU is a highly residential campus with 97 percent of students living in residence halls and apartments. The new apartment complex caps fifteen years of improvements to on-campus housing.
Ouachita’s board of trustees appointed a subcommittee last fall to work with university staff and architects John McMorran and Ryne Pruitt of Lewis Architects Engineers to design the apartments. General contractor and construction management firm CDI was chosen for the project. The board of trustees formally approved going forward in a meeting last month.
Incorporating ideas gathered through an alumni survey, the new apartment complex will feature two buildings divided into six houses. Each three-story house includes six apartments with two double-occupancy bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, kitchen and dining area open to the living area. The units will be fully furnished for students’ convenience.
“These new apartments will provide another opportunity for our students to build community while they live together on campus, elevating and enriching the student experience,” said Rickey Rogers, dean of students and director of housing. “They will support the university’s continued growth, improve safety and alleviate parking issues.”
The projected cost of the apartments is $12.6 million, and 60% of the funding has been identified. Gifts are needed for the remaining $5 million.