- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Jackson State University wants to buy a 444-bed apartment complex adjoining its campus.

The College Board Thursday voted to move toward leasing the Palisades apartment complex while keeping open options to buy it. The board gave Higher Education Chancellor Hank Bounds and board Finance Committee Chairman Ed Perry the power to work out a deal and report back. The board would later approve any lease or purchase.

“There is the potential for purchase, but I don’t see them getting to that point between now and the August board meeting,” Bounds said.

Michael Thomas, the university’s vice president for business and finance, said JSU needs more housing to accommodate an increasing number of students wanting to live on campus.

“We have a really good problem,” Thomas said. “We have a need for housing.”

Last year, the university began leasing a 240-bed motel near the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. Thomas says JSU will retain that motel this year, and is continuing with plans to build a new 628-bed housing complex, a 650-seat dining hall and a conference center. That complex was projected to cost $47.3 million when the College Board approved it earlier this year. He said JSU would still need the Palisades after the complex was built.

JSU is also renovating an existing dorm.

Thomas said Wells Fargo & Co. foreclosed on the Palisades apartments and seeks to sell the complex, which adjoins the southwest corner of the JSU campus. Thomas said 290 beds would be available for students immediately, and the university would eventually ask remaining other tenants to move out.

“We want the ability, if the price is where it needs to be, to buy the property,” he said.

Thomas said Wells Fargo has an appraisal listing the property’s value as $13 million, but he said JSU wants to pay less than $10 million. Hinds County tax records value the complex at $6.1 million.

Redus Mississippi LLC, an entity controlled by Wells Fargo, took over ownership of the Valley Street complex from West Jackson Student Housing LLC in October 2012.

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