Clarification: The story and headline was updated to clarify that the housing units no longer were considered dormitories by Georgia Southern after its lease ended in 2021. The story was updated to reflect occupancy drops that stemmed from athletic program move to Statesboro campus.
University Terrace once housed students for the Georgia Southern-Armstrong campus. Now the buildings are up for sale for $6.5 million.
The listing of the property, which consists of 194 of the 1,413 housing units for the Savannah campus, comes amid a drop in enrollment at Georgia Southern University and budget cuts mandated by the Georgia General Assembly for the school of approximately $3.9 million.
The university ended its lease with the owners of University Terrace, a private Savannah-based company, in 2021, a time when GSU was struggling to find students who wanted to live on the Armstrong campus on Savannah’s southside. When the lease ended, the complex was no longer considered university dorms, according to Georgia Southern.
Since the consolidation of the main GSU campus in Statesboro with the former Armstrong State University, the university has yet to reach 70% occupancy in dorms in Savannah. During the last academic term year, just over half (57%) of the dorms were occupied.
One factor in the lower occupancy numbers stems from the consolidation of the Statesboro and Savannah campuses, said John Lester, Vice President for University Communications and Marketing. Student-athletes who were part of the Armstrong athletics programs were required to live on campus, and now all of Georgia Southern’s athletics programs are based in Statesboro.
Another reason Armstrong students have shied away from living on campus is the split nature of the GSU curriculum, with several academic departments only offering courses in Statesboro. In Savannah, another factor has been concerns about the quality of the dorms, especially those managed by Corvias, a Rhode Island-based public-private partner of state and local governments, the military and higher education.
Between Aug. 9, 2022, and Jan. 12, 2023, students submitted 992 work orders for two Corvias dorms, the Compass Point and Windward Commons, 30 of which regarded mold.
Senior Adia Greer found mold growth on her chair in her room in October 2022, and she discovered that her bed had a substantial amount of mold. Freshman Destiny Neale said she had mold growth in her shower, “It’s all over the walls and the bathroom ceiling while also starting to get above our sink. Every time I shower or go into the bathroom, I feel gross.”
The University Terrace buildings were managed by the university itself, not Corvias. However, GSU will not profit from the sale, according to Jennifer Wise, Director of University Communications.
The sale of the buildings adjacent to the Armstrong Campus and just over a mile from the St. Joseph’s Hospital also comes amid news that Armstrong is to become an additional 4-year campus of Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia.
Augusta University is expecting to place up to 40 new students a year in this new program, due to start in Fall 2024. Armstrong officials say the students will have their choice of where to live, and dorm housing on campus will be one option for them.
The health and safety issues raised by Armstrong students about the campus dorms were first reported in 2022 by the campus student newspaper, The George-Anne Inkwell.
This summer, the university said that they would implement several improvements at campus residential facilities highlighted by the Inkwell as places of concern. The work includes repairing or replacing the ventilation systems at Compass Point and Windward Commons, replacing windows and repairing floors.
In regards to the sale of University Terrace, Armstrong officials said they will monitor developments there to ensure that “residential students are living in an atmosphere that supports their safety, academic and personal success.”