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Wichita State to move students from university housing to private apartment complex, demolish Fairmount Towers

President John Bardo, who was long rumored to have intentions of demolishing Fairmount Towers, said if students were not interested in occupying the facility, the university should close it.

President John Bardo, who was long rumored to have intentions of demolishing Fairmount Towers, said if students were not interested in occupying the facility, the university should close it.

Evan Pflugradt

Evan Pflugradt

President John Bardo, who was long rumored to have intentions of demolishing Fairmount Towers, said if students were not interested in occupying the facility, the university should close it.


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About 300 students who signed up to live at Fairmount Towers are being moved to the private apartment complex originally planned to fit 280 students on Innovation Campus. Fairmount Towers, built in the 1960s, will be closing.

The Flats, a 112-unit apartment complex set to open in the fall and owned by the developers MWCB LLC, has listed its single private bedrooms as sold-out since May on its website.

It is not known how many tenants, if any, have signed leases for the fall at The Flats or whether their rates will be reduced to match the rent of students who moved from Fairmount Towers. The university did not say if the rent paid by students would go to the university or the private business that owns The Flats. No changes to Shocker Hall pricing have been announced.

According to the university release about the move, students will pay the same rates they would have paid to stay at Fairmount Towers. Fairmount Towers costs $4,380 to $5,900 for a school year. Nine months at The Flats would cost from $7,200 to $8,460 at its listed rates.

In a university statement, Eric King, associate vice president for facilities, said, “Fairmount Towers, constructed 53 years ago as a private dormitory, has reached the end of its useful life. The building will be taken out of service and eventually demolished.”

King said the site of Fairmount Towers — on the corner of 21st and Hillside — will be available for “other university uses.” He cited a 2015 student housing report paid for by the university from Brailsford & Dunlavey that concluded the dorms should be “phased out” based on operational inefficiencies, limited student demand, its location outside the core of campus, and facility condition concerns.

Provost and Senior Vice President Tony Vizzini said, in the release, that this is part of creating “a more residential, 24-hour campus.

“Replacing Wheatshocker and Brennan Halls with Shocker Hall was the first step in the plan, and it worked beautifully,” Vizzini said.

“The next step has always been to close Fairmount, but there hasn’t been a way to do that without incurring long-term debt,” Vizzini said. “The Flats gives us an opportunity to do that. It is a bonus that students will be able to move into and experience this beautiful new housing complex.”

Fairmount Towers still has five years worth of debt service before it is paid off, partially because Wheatshocker Apartments debt was transferred to it when it was demolished in 2014.

The Sunflower spoke to Scott Jensen, director of student housing and residence, about the possibility of closing Fairmount Towers last August.

“We still have five years worth of debt we’re paying off,” Jensen said at the time. “We’re not planning to close it.”

“The only other thing I can say is, if there was another purpose on campus and could pay off the remaining debt and the costs to demolish the buildings, that would be the only reason for Fairmount’s closing.

“We’re not closing this year.”

Jensen said at that time that last fall student demand to stay at Fairmount Towers had increased from the year before.

“We went up 200 students from last year,” he said on Aug. 23, 2016. “We don’t see a reason to close when the demand is that high.”


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Evan Pflugradt contributed

*Clarification: In an earlier version of this story published online, The Sunflower reported “The office of student housing and residence said its members were directed to direct members of the media to speak with Strategic Communications about the change. Strategic Communications directed The Sunflower to Teri Hall, who did not answer The Sunflower’s call. The Sunflower was told Hall would meet with reporters to answer questions at 1:15 p.m, Friday; however, when a reporter from The Sunflower showed up to Hall’s office, the door was locked.” Teri Hall was at the Flats, not her office, answering questions.

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9 Responses to “Wichita State to move students from university housing to private apartment complex, demolish Fairmount Towers”

  1. Economics Class on July 15th, 2017 7:47 am

    Looks like Rick Perry and John Bardo both missed class the day they covered the theory of supply and demand in Economics.


    Who's Your Daddy Reply:

    I guess Murfin, Weigand, Crossland, and Barrett demanded money and Bardo, Schlapp, and Tomblin supplied it. The Innovation Campus supply and demand model.


  2. Wade Robinson on July 15th, 2017 9:09 am

    I posted the following on the Wichita Eagle website last night.

    Where is Paul Harvey when you need him for the rest of the story. The actual reason WSU is moving residents from Fairmount is because The Flats had only leased about 38 of the 285 spaces (13%) in The Flats as of this week.

    It seems the single room units are about all that were leased. Even after all the guarantees of great demand, the students responded like the three housing surveys done by SCION, Charles Burdsal and graduate students, and Brailsford Dunleavy said they would. It was too expensive.

    Compare that lease rate at The Flats with 300 or so students who had signed up to live at Fairmount Towers. I am not sure of the percentage occupancy for Fairmount Towers.

    This left quite a dilemma. Regent Chair David Murfin and the other partners at MWCB, LLC stood to lose a lot of money with only 13% of the beds leased at The Flats. So somehow the decision was made to move Fairmount Towers residents at the last minute and close the facility. Making this kind of massive change this late in the summer is a very significant move.

    Even though Fairmount residents will pay the same rate at The Flats, there will apparently be twice as many in each bedroom than planned. I am guessing that two students in a bedroom at The Flats paying the Fairmount rate is still going to be much more revenue than a student paying the regular rate at The Flats.

    The end result is the Office of Housing & Residence Life will lose all the revenue that was to be made at Fairmount Towers and a large part of that revenue will now go to Regent Chair David Murfin and the other partners at MWCB, LLC. Kind of interesting how that worked out. They will get money from not just the planned 285 residents, but now they will get revenue from 400 according to the article. The revenue from Fairmount could have certainly helped the overall operations of the Office of Housing & Residence Life.

    The article mentions the Office of Housing & Residence Life will manage The Flats, and private apartment complex. How does that work? It seems they will get a fee but is that all the money they will get? How does the WSU Office of Housing & Residence Life and other departments like Strategic Communications marketing a private apartment complex fit with the Kansas Board of Regent policy dealing with private housing that is listed in Chapter II, E, 9 of the KBOR policy manual? It doesn’t seem clear.

    I think WSU still owes about $3,320,000 on the Fairmount Towers bonds and they list a $1,000,000 cost estimate to raze Fairmount Towers on the KBOR Five Year Capital Improvement Plan that was approved this past July 1, 2017. Who will pay for those costs now that student rent revenue is going to MWCB, LLC instead of the WSU Office of Housing & Residence Life to retire the Fairmount Towers Bond debt?

    This announcement seems to conflict with all the previous media stories about The Flats and the market demand and that it was a private apartment complex. It will also be interesting to see now if the narrative changes to say that the demand for The Flats Phase I is 400 with only 285 beds and if that will be used to justify immediately building what had been previously discussed as The Flats Phase II.


  3. slap of cold hard economics on July 15th, 2017 9:10 am

    What did the flats not have enough students to turn a profit, so the “fix” is to force students to move into them? Also what about their meal plans? is this a ploy to get more students living in the hall?


  4. The Anti-Federalist Party on July 15th, 2017 11:51 pm

    Just imagine, if the university would of built a new dorm instead of a private business, all the rent money would be going back into the school instead of flowing out. So what will the university do next year when the flats fail to meet occupancy? I don’t image all those students returning to pay the full price of the flats. Also what ever happened to the idea of dorms being a “plain, no thrills, public housing building”? Why do 18 to 20 year olds need luxury dorms/housing? 18-20 year olds are broke and unskilled, send them to public housing and let them study without the burden of a mortgage payment to live in luxury. So someday they can be useful to society by paying off their debts and becoming self sufficient. (university dorms should be cheaper than any private housing complex if done correctly because the government doesn’t need to turn a profit). We are slowly turning young people into a debt-slave generation, we can help these young uneducated people by not building expensive housing and stop giving them loans to pay for unnecessary rent.

    I believe the university administration to think of themselves as divine monarchy, and have lost sight of what their job is. It’s time for the silent self-sufficient people of this nation to wake up and realize centralized power of universities has gone too far and needs to be reabsorbed into State Legislatures or else I fear university spending will keep going in the wrong direction along with soaring student debt. It’s easy, build CHEAP dorms, pay teachers more, optimize lecture seating, become more selective on students entering college and spend less on: sports, “campus beauty”, advertising, food choices, recreation, and administrative salaries.

    College should never be free for we already paid through high school, yet we shouldn’t be trying to make profits from university education.

    Your friend of old,
    -The Anti-Federalist


  5. Zeeshan on July 16th, 2017 10:32 am

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next 5 years or so.


  6. Eric Stuewe on July 16th, 2017 2:33 pm

    This is why you don’t build things too pricy in Kansas.

    Whatever Bardo says, the reason Brennan and Fairmount were better options for students is that students could actually forgive them. When you don’t give a viable option at a reasonable price, you deserve to lose money from people simply not buying the options.

    Unlike California, we’re smart here. When we aren’t willing to overpay just for living space, we simply don’t do it. And you get to fail because you were stupid enough to try to force the issue.

    By the way, since y’all decided to get rid of Sodexo and get something worse instead, I look forward to boycotting campus restaurants this year, too.


  7. Steve on July 17th, 2017 11:12 am

    This is all part of the plan. Only the most hopelessly naïve believe anything that Bardo and his executive say at this point. Innovation Campus was always meant to be a way to divert profits earned on public property into the pockets of the wealthy and politically connected owners of private businesses. Bardo gets his name on a bunch of shiny plaques installed on brand new buildings, Tomblin gets to put more than $500k into his bank account and the students just like always get screwed. Bardo treats WSU like a parasite that mercilessly feeds on the students. He will not be happy until he bankrupts every single student. With enrollment down, why is the press still being so kind to Bardo. I for one am extremely disappointed with the Sunflower, they should be exposing the Innovation Campus for the corrupt fraud that it is. Simply put, Emperor Bardo is not wearing any clothes and it is long past time to start saying it.


  8. Fake Pres. Bardo on July 20th, 2017 12:32 pm

    I need help starting a Shocker credit card company. Students are not going to have enough money to spend at the innovation campus. We will lend money to students so they can buy coffee and football err.. basketball tickets. Students deserve good tasting coffee and I want to help them get it. Oh, did I mention that we will start charging students for WSU basketball tickets… wait or was that just in my dream. Whos in?

    -Come to my office if you want to be a vice president of the Shocker credit cards department. Starting salary is $150,00/year preferred interviews will go to individuals who lived a significant portion of their life out of state.

    As always,
    Fake Pres. Bardo


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