By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – A new public-private partnership between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a Nebraska investor will bring a $48 million housing project to the University Village development at UNK.
Millennium Development and UNK jointly announced the upscale townhome and apartment project at a Monday news conference.
The investor of the privately funded project is real estate developer Scott Rief of Grand Island. Rief’s company, Millennium Development, will build, own and manage the Kearney project. UNK will lease the land to Millennium.
“Partnering with the university is an opportunity you don’t get every day. When I invest in a community it’s about location, and UNK has a tremendous location,” Rief said. “I share UNK’s vision on what this space can be, and that makes this a very special and exciting partnership.”
The housing development will be built in four phases, with the first including 86 units, a clubhouse, outdoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor gyms, carriage house, attached garages and courtyard. It will be constructed southwest of the central green space at University Village.
Initial construction will include five buildings – including a mix of apartments and townhomes – and two 10-plex units. The $14 million first phase will also include a 5,000-square-foot retail space with a restaurant planned as the anchor business.
Construction is expected to begin in August and targeted for completion in June 2021. The housing is not just for university students, faculty and staff, but the entire Kearney community.
The overall housing development is planned in four phases over five years and will include 230 units, which will be a combination of apartments, 10-plexes and townhomes.
Millennium Development’s partnership with UNK is the largest private investment on a construction project in the university’s history.
“This announcement is significant because it demonstrates the desire of private industries and businesses in working with the university to invest in important community and business development opportunities,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “Projects like these are the future of public universities, and are how universities will prosper and grow, thoughtfully and intentionally, through similar private partnerships.”
Rief said the development will be “especially attractive” to students, young professionals and community members looking for “trendy, upscale and urban” living.
“This is a walkable city and community-based living where people will be comfortable in both outdoor and indoor spaces,” he said. “One way you rate a property is on walkability, and this location is a win because UNK is bringing in other amenities and projects that will make University Village a destination.”
The housing development is designed by Weaver Sherman Design out of Indianapolis, which was involved with a project at Purdue University similar to UNK’s University Village. Lincoln-based engineering and design firm Olsson also is involved.
University Village is a public-private development along Highway 30 south of UNK’s main campus planned as a mixed-use urban village featuring residential, retail, academic, recreation, community engagement and service industry facilities in a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.
The 104-acre development includes Village Flats, a 99-unit, apartment-style housing complex for UNK students, staff and faculty completed in summer 2018, and UNK’s LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center, which opened in 2019. An indoor tennis complex and Regional Engagement and Alumni Center are also planned for construction.