UCA to lease downtown building for married student housing

The University of Central Arkansas formally announced, Thursday, an agreement between the university and American Management Corp. to lease a downtown building for married student housing.

The two-story building, located at 1404 Caldwell, will be converted into 16 two-bedroom apartments. The apartments will be ready to house students in the fall. UCA has entered into a 5-year lease with AMC.

The location is just over a mile from campus and would place students in an area that also is convenient to grocery stores, shopping and entertainment.

UCA President Lu Hardin called this a significant day for the university and the city. ?We are proud to be in this business partnership,? he said. ?This is a first step toward business relationships that will continue with downtown Conway.?

Converting downtown property into apartments would help revitalize the downtown area in accordance with the goals of the Conway Downtown Partnership.

?I love loft apartments and I love the concept of being downtown,? Hardin said.

Steve Strange, president of AMC, said he recognized the impact of UCA on the city. ?This is one major economic partner and one minor economic partner coming together to break down the walls and to make this a great city,? he said.

UCA is the largest employer in Conway with 1,600 faculty, staff and administrators. The university also has a direct economic impact of $42 million annually on the city.

Hardin also announced that financing for the building renovation was being provided through a locally owned bank, First State Bank.

-Jennifer Boyett