Church, University of Utah and Ivory Homes break ground on new housing

A groundbreaking ceremony Friday signaled the beginning of a unique collaborative housing project involving The University of Utah, the Clark and Christine Ivory Trust and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that will serve students during an unprecedented housing crunch.

The three institutions are working together to build Ivory University House, a four-building, 552-unit apartment community at the corner of Mario Capecchi Drive and South Campus Drive to add housing for U. students. Rent paid will be donated to provide scholarships, housing stipends and internships for U. students.

The first building is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2023 where a church meetinghouse once stood.

“This innovative new model will transform the university’s housing situation and help serve thousands of students,” University of Utah President Taylor Randall said in a news release. “This type of partnership is key to our future growth, allowing us to provide expanded opportunities for Utah students.”

Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé shakes hands with University of Utah President Taylor Randall, right, at Ivory University House.

Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shakes hands with University of Utah President Taylor Randall at the groundbreaking ceremony for a unique student housing collaboration called Ivory University House at the U. in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, May 13, 2022.

The Ivory University House is a private facility and not part of the U.’s Housing & Residential Education. It is also not governed by the church.

How the idea of Ivory University House could be worth $1 billion

Clark and Christine Ivory first discussed the idea 10 years ago during his tenure as a member and chair of the university’s board of trustees.

They wound up with a public-private partnership between a state school, a church and a private foundation.

“Rather than making a one-time donation, we wanted to produce an ongoing gift for student support,” he said. “We are taking a $24 million investment and producing an annuity that will likely generate more than $1 billion in impact over 99 years. This is the future financial model for supporting higher education and we are grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for making this possible with our ground lease of this prime property adjacent to the University of Utah.”

The Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation has provided more than 7,000 scholarships, internships and mentorships at universities, colleges and high schools across the state of Utah.

The need for student housing

The Ivory Foundation shifted to student housing needs when the need became critical during the pandemic.

“Fall enrollment is projected to be up nearly 20 percent this year, and there is a waitlist of around 3,000 students who have applied for on-campus housing,” Randall said. “Ivory University House cannot be completed soon enough.”

Randall sees Ivory University House as part of his vision for a “University Town,” which he unveiled in March.

As Ivory University House is constructed, the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation will donate an additional $6 million in seed funding to build “Complete U,” a strategic plan to activate campus year-round and engage underclassmen in experiential learning opportunities that lead to better student outcomes.

“Our foundation has always focused on students who need the greatest support,” Christine Ivory said. “Ivory University House will allow us to expand that focus in so many ways, including providing housing assistance for students most in need.”

Along with Ivory University House, the university is in the process of adding approximately 1,700 units of student housing, including:

  • 430 rooms in the fourth wing of Kahlert Village, slated to open in fall 2023.
  • 775 beds in the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter, which will open in August 2024.
  • 504 units in the University West Village, opening in July 2023.

What the church is contributing

The church agreed to demolish an existing, functioning chapel and provide the land to the foundation for 99 years on a market-rate commercial lease.

“Education opportunities are extremely important to both individuals and society as a whole,” the church said in a news release. “The church is pleased to participate in this project, which will benefit academically focused University of Utah students, with off-campus housing and future scholarships.”

Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. He said the…

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