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$45M SEARK student-center project advances

by I.C. Murrell | October 13, 2021 at 3:04 a.m.
An artist rendering of the SEARK College Student Center & Classroom Complex.

Southeast Arkansas College board members Monday approved submission of a resolution detailing plans for a new student center and residential area to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

As required by statute, the resolution must be included on the coordinating board's agenda before the college can take action. Failure to send the resolution would have meant SEARK had to wait at least three more months before the coordinating board could review the document, and construction planners along with SEARK President Steven Bloomberg say that would have delayed the project.

The coordinating board will meet Oct. 29.

The SEARK Board of Trustees was presented with the resolution shortly before last Wednesday's special called meeting, but some trustees complained that they were not given enough time to review it. Dee Brown, president and CEO of real estate development firm The P3 Group, explained that the resolution, which is not final, would allow the college to execute a tax-exempt lease purchase agreement for the project, and that The P3 Group would design, build and finance the project for SEARK.

The resolution calls for $45 million in bonds toward construction, pending a housing feasibility study. That is higher than the estimated cost of $36 million that was projected in September, but Brown added the higher figure would only give trustees another option whether to expand the project from the projected 316 residential units up to 600.

Bloomberg said he hopes SEARK can contribute up to $14 million toward the total construction cost following additional corporate donations. The college has $8 million in equity available to contribute, Bloomberg said.

SEARK officials say a residential center would remove a barrier between students and their access to education.

Print Headline: $45M SEARK student-center project advances

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