Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) required housing to attract new students and remain competitive with other osteopathic schools, including nearby Auburn University. However, with limited leverageable cashflow and a need to protect its debt capacity for other campus and academic projects, ACOM was in need of a private partner to achieve its goal. In the fall of 2012 Corvias became ACOM’s partner and worked aggressively with them to condense a typical 18-month construction schedule into an abbreviated 10-month schedule to complete the project, Summerfield Square, to accommodate ACOM’s inaugural class in Fall 2013, but that was just the beginning of the 65-year partnership.
During the design process for Summerfield Square, Corvias engaged ACOM’s faculty and staff and the admitted students through focus groups and campus meetings. By reaching out to better understand their needs, Corvias and ACOM were able to design a community that reflects student priorities and also supports their academic progress. From initial meetings with the ACOM Board and the Houston County Health Care Authority, to coordination with applicable planning, zoning and other building departments, to ongoing collaboration with ACOM, the City of Dothan, Houston County and Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Corvias took great care to simultaneously coordinate all efforts to meet ACOM’s needs and ambitious timeline to complete Summerfield Square. Once the construction was underway, careful coordination took place to allow for site and vertical subcontractors to share limited work space to maintain the aggressive schedule which included 12 hour days and seven-day work weeks. Through cooperation and teamwork, the first complex of its kind consisting of 27 one-bed/one-bath units and 45 two-bed/two-bath units arranged in three, threestory garden-style apartment buildings was successfully opened on time, under budget, and at 100% occupancy.
While collaborating with the students and ACOM during the development phase the Corvias team learned ACOM relies heavily on electronic resources offered through their intranet, such as e-textbooks and online lectures, making access to these resources essential to the students’ success in their studies. Focused on student success the Corvias Team ensured each bedroom has a dedicated desk with data ports to the University’s secure site intranet services, making it the first housing on campus to offer this feature. Corvias also his includes phone, cable, and high-speed internet access ports in bedrooms and living area, as well as a dedicated desk with data ports for college intranet services in each bedroom. The Corvias team planned and created a network with flexibility that can be updated and expanded through the life of the Partnership to make sure students always have the tools for success they need readily available.
While developing Summerfield Square the Corvias team remembered that every medical student tends to get lost in their studies, lock themselves in their room, and forget to breath, relax and look up to see their friends and families. With that in mind Summerfield Square was designed to be a community that supports studying while also encouraging communication and relaxation. Apart from the buildings, the 10 acres, feature beautifully landscaped outdoor gardens which encompass luscious green spaces, parking and amenities including a 3,308 SF clubhouse with a basketball court, a lap pool, proposed volleyball court, large fitness room with state-of-the-art exercise equipment, a playground with shade structure, a fire pit, and BBQ grill.
In an additional effort to give the students a break from their studies Corvias also hosts two events a month for the students. The events range from scavenger hunt, to a raffle, to a meal. Corvias has found the most effective method of drawing the students out of their rooms is a free meal, there are 200 residents in the building, when Corvias hosts a free meal an average of 125 people attend the event.
The ACOM and Corvias partnership is one built on mutual trust and communication, that has been cultivated to last the tests of time. Within our partnership ACOM and Corvias have a joint governance structure, ensuring program flexibility and aligned interest. ACOM and Corvias have a collaborative approach to roles and responsibilities creating an efficient working partnership.To support the program for the long-term, Corvias has established sufficient reserves to ensure ACOM’s housing is devoid of deferred maintenance and always in quality condition. In addition to standard operating reserves, Corvias establishes a robust capital repair and replacement program as well as a dedicated program reinvestment reserve. This allows for a comprehensive approach to lifecycle management as well as a long-term development plan, eliminating deferred maintenance across the campus’ housing inventory. With each renovation or replacement, Corvias and ABAC can ensure the housing program meets the ever-changing needs of the College and its future students, while offering continuously modern and marketable facilities. Because of this, ACOM does not need to invest any additional funds into the program for the full 65-year term to update and maintain its housing, resulting in the ability to focus its capital to other needs and priorities on campus.
During construction and through the life of the partnership Corvias is dedicated to developing the local workforce and positively impacting the state of Alabama with this program. To date, nearly 83% of all subcontracts have been allocated to small business enterprises and 82% have been utilized on local vendors. These expenditures have provided Alabama businesses with both valuable training opportunities and economic security throughout the duration of the 50-year partnership. Furthermore, Corvias Foundation, Corvias’ charitable arm, has made substantial charitable contributions in and around Alabama, the fringe impacts of which are immeasurable.