Town Hall Meetings Answer Questions on Faculty, Staff Housing Project

Posted: May 1, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

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Earlier this week, Tom Calhoun, vice president for facilities, hosted two Town Hall meetings to address the questions and concerns of the Mason community pertaining to the faculty and staff housing project currently under way.

The following is a condensed list of questions Calhoun addressed during the presentations.

What is the faculty staff housing project?

The project is a development consisting of 155 housing units situated on 27 acres in the northeast corner of the Fairfax Campus. The townhome community will be a mixture of flat- and stacked-home floor plans.

How did the idea begin?

The idea originally focused on Mason developing properties with the intent to sell them to faculty and staff. When Mason encountered issues related to selling state-owned land, the plan evolved into an all-rental development.

Who will be living there?

The homes will be used primarily to attract and retain new faculty to Mason. Tenants will be selected through a university priority system. First priority will be given to new tenure, tenure-track or research faculty. Second priority goes to new full-time classified staff or full-time administrative/professional faculty. In all, 11 different groups are organized according to priority:

  • Faculty or staff identified by the university president as top priority

  • New tenure, tenure-track or research faculty

  • New full-time classified staff, or full-time administrative/professional faculty, with specialized skill sets (e.g., IT, management) or with higher than average turnover and vacancy rates

  • Existing tenured, tenure-track or research faculty

  • Existing full-time classified staff or full-time administrative/professional faculty with specialized skill sets (e.g., IT, management) or with higher than average turnover and vacancy rates

  • Full-time term faculty

  • Full-time administrative/professional faculty and full-time classified staff (without regard to turnover, etc.)

  • Other university employees,

  • Employees of organizations affiliated with the university

  • Full-time George Mason University graduate and professional students

  • City of Fairfax or Fairfax County employees, including employees of the public school system.

Where will residents and visitors park?

Most of the homes will be equipped with a garage and/or parking strip. The remaining homes will have sufficient on-street parking. The total number of parking spaces in the community average 2.5 spaces per home, allowing for what developers predict will be adequate guest parking.

Who is the developer?

The developer is Mason Housing Inc. (MHI), a private, nonprofit entity whose only purpose is to provide housing for Mason faculty and staff. The nine-member board consists of two Mason employees and seven local business owners. Mason leased the land to MHI, which then borrowed the $50 million needed to build and maintain the development. So far, the faculty and staff housing project is MHI’s sole development, but the group may take on additional Mason housing projects in the future.

What is the construction timeline?

The first 50 units will be ready for occupancy in July of 2009. The remaining units will be completed using a staggered timeline within the following year to ensure full occupancy and continual turnover.

What are the monthly rental rates?

Five different floor plans have been designed, and prices will vary according to size. Current rental rates would reflect the following:

1 bed/1 bath, 650 sq. ft. – $1,200

2 bed/2 bath, 990 sq. ft. – $1,700

2 bed/2 bath, 1360 sq. ft. – $1,850

3 bed/2 bath, 1400 sq. ft. – $1,970

3 bed/2.5 bath, 1650 sq. ft. – $2,190

What are the lease terms?

Lease agreements of one, two or three years will be offered. Also, the home must be the occupant’s primary residence. The tenancy is associated with maintaining employment at Mason.

What are the advantages of living in this development over other areas?

To ease sticker shock of those who are new to the area, the rental rates will be set at approximately 90 percent of market value. Another advantage is its close proximity to the Fairfax Campus.

Which public schools will the residents’ children attend?

This has not yet been determined.

Will the Arlington and Prince William Campuses see similar housing projects?

Mason and the developer are currently exploring options to develop similar housing projects at the Arlington and Prince William Campuses. However, there are no set plans to date.

Click here for a PowerPoint on the presentation that includes maps of the location and housing designs.

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