AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin is looking to expand its affordable housing blueprint for students and keep them closer to campus. UT just bought a long-standing apartment building on Guadalupe Street to provide more on-campus opportunities.
The university has purchased Dobie 21 for over $104M. Dobie 21, formally known as the Dobie Center, has the capacity to house 980 students. Currently, the tower isn’t completely full, nor is it composed of all university students.
“With the rising cost of housing in Austin, we’re really worried about our students being able to live close to campus affordably,” said University of Texas President Jay Hartzell.
“We toured places and then my dad was like — ‘This is where you’re going to live’ because he lived here,” said Olivia Nabarro.
Olivia Nabarro is a UT freshman. Her dad lived inside the Dobie Center several decades ago. Perhaps, it’s the nostalgia that drew her dad to signing the lease papers.
“The Korean food down there is amazing. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid,” said Nabarro. “I know the man who works inside there, he’s been there since my dad lived there.”
Decades later, the center is changing hands.
“We wanted to seize this opportunity to add student housing and provide flexibility for future campus expansion. Our location is a huge draw for students, with incredible access to internships and experiences in one of the country’s most dynamic cities. These new options will further enhance our ability to attract the best students, leverage our location, and become the country’s highest-impact public university.”Jay Hatrzell University of Texas President
The purchase also lines up with an effort build more graduate student housing. Over 700 beds will be added at the graduate housing center on the eastern end of campus between Comal Street, East 21st Street, Leona Street, and south of Manor Road.
Next steps are figuring out how to revamp the Dobie center.
“We haven’t talked about how to make the place more vibrant and offer more student programming, but I do expect that with that many students living there, we’ll find more ways to engage with them and offer more activities,” said Hartzell.
The changes to Dobie 21 will happen next school year. All lease agreements will remain in place until then. The retail tenants, including Target at the bottom of the building, will be welcome to stay.
Hartzell says the university is always looking for strategic ways to expand university housing. Land purchases and development are in the works for the northern or western parts of campus.