EDINBORO ― Two vacant Edinboro University residence halls may soon be on the market.

The board of governors of the state of Pennsylvania’s higher education system on Wednesday unanimously authorized the university to proceed with the sale of Buildings 7 and 8 of the Highlands on-campus housing complex.

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University residences are simply not necessary, according to the sales proposal presented to the PASSHE board. Edinboro enrollment has halved over the past decade, to 4,319 in 2020-21. Only 1,065 students are living in halls of residence this academic year. With space for 1,843 students, the residence’s occupancy rate is 57.8%.

And this weighs more on the finances of the university.

“Low occupancy rates have created financial pressure on ancillary operations, resulting in annual shortfalls in the housing program,” according to the sales plan.

The University of Edinboro projects a budget shortfall of $2.3 million, a reserve shortfall of $6.8 million and a construction debt of $125 million on July 1. money on facilities, staff and other expenses.

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“A sale of two of its buildings would provide proceeds to be directed towards debt repayment, eliminate some ongoing operational and facilities management needs, and leave sufficient housing capacity for its planned future listing,” according to the proposal. sale.

Selling the buildings will also save the university about $800,000 a year in maintenance, utility and other costs, according to Molly Mercer, chief financial officer of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Before the buildings can be sold, the university will need approval from the Borough of Edinboro to subdivide the 16.5-acre property, including parking lots, from campus. The sale would also require approval from the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Department of General Services, as the university is state-owned.

Offered for sale: Highlands 7 and 8

The Highlands complex includes eight halls of residence. Buildings 1 to 4 were constructed in 2008 and 2009. Buildings 5 ​​to 8 were constructed in 2010 and 2011.

The $115 million construction project was the largest in the history of the University of Edinboro and came at the time of high waters for enrollment in Edinboro. There was a record 8,650 students enrolled in fall 2010.

Offered for sale are Highlands 7 and 8 near Darrow Road. A cluster of trees separates the buildings from others in the complex.

“The buildings are ripe for sale,” Mercer told PASSHE governors on Thursday. “They are in a corner area of ​​campus and can be separated from the central area of ​​campus quite easily.”

Truly apartment buildings, the four-story residence halls feature 600 to 1,000 square foot accommodations with private bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. Common areas include TV and computer lounges and laundry rooms.

Each building is approximately 70,000 square feet. Highlands 7 can accommodate 202 students. Highlands 8 can accommodate 246 people.

No students have lived in the buildings since the spring of 2019. Both are used primarily for storage, Edinboro University spokeswoman Angela Burrows said.

Who would buy the buildings?

It is unclear who might be interested in purchasing the residences.

Other schools in the public university system have sold buildings on campus. PASSHE sold its Harrisburg headquarters at auction in October. None of the 14 public universities offered residence halls for sale.

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“It’s hard to know who might be interested until we ask for and start receiving proposals,” Burrows said. “We are interested in finding an entity to purchase the buildings that would provide experiential learning opportunities for our students.

“A seniors’ residence or assisted living facility, for example, would provide opportunities for nursing and speech-language pathology students. A sports complex could provide business majors with internship opportunities,” Burrows said.

“It will be a win-win if we get the right buyer,” Burrows said. “We could have new opportunities for students, and the buyer would have access to a campus community that has a lot of benefits.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported plans to sell Edinboro residences on Thursday.

Contact Valerie Myers at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ETNmyers.

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