- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Officials say two fields - one for corn, one for football practice - will be transformed into restaurants, retailers and student housing near the University of Nebraska at Kearney over the next 10 to 20 years.

The 104-acre University Village development will sit southwest of the main campus and be nearly as big, said the Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/1j6dOAI ).

“This will be very unique. There will be nothing like this from Lincoln to Denver,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said Tuesday. “We think it will attract people from many, many areas to come into the city of Kearney. It will provide needed housing options in this community, as well.”

The long-term plans include several student housing options, public residential areas, office spaces, a park, nature areas, softball fields and a recreation complex that will house an indoor track and tennis courts.

Construction on a new student housing complex could begin as soon as next year, replacing the aging University Heights off-campus apartment complex. UNK plans to sell University Heights and use the proceeds to help develop University Village.

The next priority is a new child care facility at University Village, replacing the center that’s situated in the Otto Olsen building on the main campus.

Kristensen expects private development will occur as the university’s new structures rise.

“We will try to have standards,” he said. “We want to have a uniform vision of what this development will look like.” Kristensen likened University Village to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Aksarben Village.

The University Village project has been discussed since 2008. The final estimated cost is between $400 million and $500 million, according to Barbara Johnson, UNK vice chancellor for business and finance.

The first part of the project will be funded by revenue bonds, Kristensen said. “After that, that’s where you have the public-private partnership, where the private entities will come in and front the money.”

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Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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