The University of Texas at Tyler is finalizing the purchase of the Village at the U Apartments, adding 588 beds and almost doubling its available student housing.

That will bring UT Tyler's student housing offerings to more than 1,400 beds to start the fall semester.

The $20.3 million purchase will put the university in control of a complex that has made the news in past years for its criminal troubles. The complex is at 3088 Old Omen Road.

The university plans to change the complex's name, upgrade the facilities and make them an appealing housing option for students, according to a university news release.

"We are excited about the acquisition of this existing property," Dr. Howard Patterson, vice president for student affairs, said in the news release. "It represents a significant addition to our on-campus housing inventory and should be a highly attractive alternative to current and future students who might otherwise have lived off campus in some other apartment complex. This property will have many amenities to brand it as a UT Tyler property and be a great place to live while attending UT Tyler."

The complex and others in the area have had a history of shootings, robberies, assaults and more.

In fall 2012, there were four shootings in a monthlong period at apartments in that area, including at least one at what is now Village at the U, then called The Cambridge at Tyler.

In December 2012 when Emet Capital Management purchased The Cambridge at Tyler and changed the name to Village at the U, the company also completed more than $1 million in upgrades, which included improvements to security and an overhaul of the clubhouse.

Still, UT Tyler plans to make additional improvements over several years to "bring it up to our five-star standard," Jesse Acosta, the university's vice president for business affairs, said in the news release.

UT Tyler plans to honor all the existing leases as it finalizes the housing policies for the facility. Patterson said the university's objective is to fill the complex with UT Tyler students and they believe they can do that within a few years. In the meantime though, UT Tyler officials are considering leasing to non-UT Tyler students.

Students are going to be allowed to have pets, and those who are 21 or older will be allowed to drink alcohol at the apartment complex, according to a story in the Patriot Talon, UT Tyler's student newspaper.

University officials plan to change the complex's name. The student-housing marketing team is having a naming contest to help come up with it, the Patriot Talon reported.

The top names submitted by students will be presented to university President Dr. Rod Mabry, according to the article.

Mabry said the purchase will enable the university to continue its vision of being a destination campus for students coming from outside the area, according to the UT Tyler news release.

The complex features a gated entrance, fitness center, game room, sand volleyball court, clubhouse and outdoor pool area.

Move-in for UT Tyler students is slated to start as early as August.



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