AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin broke ground on a new graduate student housing building on the east side of campus in the historic Blackland neighborhood. University officials said it’s part of an effort to create more affordable housing options for students.

The building, which will be located at 21 Street between Comal and Leona Streets, will have 784 beds in studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom layouts, UT officials said. There will also be public courtyards, an outdoor classroom, an amphitheater, a fitness center and study spaces.

The plan for this graduate student housing area is part of the 2015 East Campus Master Plan, UT officials said. The building is expected to be completed for fall 2024 and will be managed by UT Austin’s University Housing and Dining.

During the construction phase, American Campus Communities will participate in developing the project, and advisory firm Brailsford & Dunlavey will give insight throughout the development process, according to the college.

The University of Texas at Austin broke ground on new grad student housing on the east side of campus. It's part of an effort to create more affordable options for students. The building is expected to be done for fall 2024 and is located on 21st Street between Comal and Leona Streets. (Photo: University of Texas at Austin)
The University of Texas at Austin broke ground on new graduate student housing on the east side of campus. It’s part of an effort to create more affordable options for students. The building is expected to be done for fall 2024 and is located on 21st Street between Comal and Leona Streets.
(Photo: University of Texas at Austin)

This comes after UT Austin bought Dobie Twenty21 in October 2021, a 27-story residential building at 2021 Guadalupe St. These two buildings together will ramp up affordable student housing options by 1,700 beds, according to UT Austin.

More about the Blackland neighborhood

According to the East End Cultural Heritage District, the Blackland neighborhood was originally founded by Swedish immigrants, who used the “rich black soil” there to advance agriculture in the area.

In 1927, Austin made a plan to segregate the city, wanting to keep Black people on the east side and giving UT Austin the ability to expand into east Austin. The heritage district said even though the city rejected the plan in 1956, UT Austin continued to use it as part of its reasoning for acquiring more land.

In 1981, the heritage district said as the university was looking to expand eastward again, activists fought for affordable housing in the area and the preservation of the neighborhood. The Blackland Neighborhood Association was formed to take over those efforts.

The association then created the Blackland Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that helped the neighborhood buy property and build affordable housing, the heritage district said. UT Austin and the corporation eventually reached an agreement in 1994, and the school limited its expansion up to Leona Street, “with an exception along Manor Road to Chicon Street.”

“I am grateful for our ongoing conversations with the Blackland Neighborhood Association, and I am excited to collaborate as we go forward so our graduate students are both contributing to and benefiting from the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” UT Austin President Jay Hartzell said in a press release.