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The University of Memphis wants to take over Gather on Southern apartments

The University of Memphis is working to obtain operational control and, finally, ownership of an apartment complex for independent students that has seen a recent eruption of violent crime.

An agreement to do the Gather at Southern apartments at 3655 Southern Ave. part of the accommodation options on the school campus has been in operation for approximately four months, said the president of the university, M. David Rudd.

That's before several criminal incidents in the last month, including an aggravated assault. But Rudd said that making the complex part of the campus extend the safety of the university to the facilities, providing a safer environment for students.

"The main priority for us is the safety and well-being of our students," said Rudd.

How the deal would work

The agreement would be a partnership with a company called Municipal Acquisitions. That company would buy the property from Rael Development Corporation. The university would immediately take ownership of Gather's 5 acres of land, valued at $ 3 million, and take over the operations of the facility. Within thirty years, the municipal acquisitions would transfer ownership of the building, valued at $ 28 million, to the university.

Rudd acknowledged that U of M has struggled to offer quality housing, and this would be an opportunity to do so without incurring additional debt.

Rudd said that this partnership with the municipal acquisitions, which would equitably divide the profits and costs of operating the facility with the U of M, is the first agreement of this type in Tennessee, but universities across the country have similar associations.

The board of directors of the university gave preliminary approval at a special meeting convened on Tuesday morning. The agreement must receive approval from the state's attorney general and return to the meeting for a final vote.

Board members applauded Rudd's proposal, and Trustee Carol Roberts said it was complex but creative.

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A more recent addition to the aging of student housing

The Gather building, with 435 beds, is only five years old. The average age of the university's housing is 57, said Rudd.

The most recent college built apartments in Centennial Place with more than 700 beds, but at a cost of $ 56 million.

"We can not afford to enter into the business of building new houses," said Rudd.

Adding more housing on campus is also a way to increase student retention and graduation, he said, since students tend to be more involved in programming and can take advantage of available academic supports in student housing.

Only about 10 percent of the people currently living in Gather are not students of the U of M, said Rudd.

Student Trustee Drew Gilmore noted that there may be some students who live in Gather precisely because it is not part of the housing on campus, and they have more freedom there than they do. they would be "under the eye" of the university.

"I recognize what you are saying, there are certainly some elements of our home that are not attractive to students," said Rudd.

Board Chairman Alan Graf said the agreement was "really good for our students."

"It gives them a choice and improves their security," he said.

Reach Jennifer Pignolet at or on Twitter @JenPignolet.

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