University Realty LLC receives, cultivates, advances and monetizes commercial and residential real estate to support the mission of Arizona State University. The goal of each and every transaction is to bring more resources and more revenue to the table for education. These transactions create real impact for ASU faculty, students, research, and ultimately, our communities. It started out as a few real estate assets held by the ASU Foundation in 2013 valued at $45.1 million, and today, University Realty, the real estate affiliate of the foundation has a managed asset portfolio located in four states that is valued at $742 million in June 2023.
University Realty partners with the real estate development and brokerage community on numerous projects and cannot be successful without them. Development partners bring additional staff, expertise, and equity to help University Realty generate revenue for ASU and create buildings that support the university’s mission. University Realty only takes on projects with the right partners and the right opportunity to create revenue to advance higher education and provide a greater community benefit to the city and state.
University Realty was established in 2016 as a wholly owned limited liability company 501(c)(3) under ASU Enterprise Partners. It operates as a disregarded entity per IRS guidelines and operates under the same status of “public charity.” Although University Realty generates funds from various investments in land and improvements, these funds must be used for additional charitable work or reinvested to further the company’s operations. No profits are distributed to any staff, directors, or trustees. University Realty is governed by an independent board of directors.
When ASU identifies a development opportunity for one of its properties, University Realty is treated no differently than any other real estate developer. The land is appraised and assessed at fair market value. The funds received from pre-paid land leases are then collected by the university on behalf of ABOR and utilized solely for university operations.
Real estate makes real impact
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University Realty closed on a vacant warehouse property that needed extensive repairs and had been on the market for more than a year for $3.5 million. After receiving only low-ball offers, the broker approached University Realty about acquiring the property. After receiving the letter of intent through the broker, the property owner consulted his tax professional and realized the significant benefits of a bargain sale. University Realty closed in less than 21 days for $2 million cash, with the property owner receiving the balance of the $3.25 million appraisal as a tax deduction to offset future income for the next five years. Not only did the broker receive a commission on the sale of the property to the University Realty, the broker that brought that property also received the listing to lease the property from University Realty.
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Thelma Wolff donated her vacation home in Pinetop, Ariz., a few years ago to the ASU Foundation. She had no heirs and wanted to help ASU students learn through travel and exposure to other cultures.
Wolff passed away in 2017 at the age of 94 but left a legacy for students who wish to enhance their education through international study. The sale of her home for $290,000 in 2017 endowed the Thelma G. Wolff International Scholarship for students to study abroad for a semester since traveling was a passion of hers.
In 2019, Wolff’s scholarship enabled Cassandra Savel to study in the Netherlands where she participated in research on urban transportation infrastructure and social well-being. A second student, Dasha O’Brien studied at the University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic.
Cassandra Savel, a Thelma G. Wolff International Scholarship recipient, studying abroad in the Netherlands. While abroad, Cassandra participated in research on urban transportation infrastructure and social well-being.
University Realty LLC, a 501(c)(3) company, is driven by the mission established in the ASU charter: increasing the access, excellence and impact of the university.
This is accomplished by implementing three fundamental strategies:
Accept and monetize real estate gifts from donors, which can include commercial office, industrial, retail, multifamily and single family residential, as well as vacant land.
Acquire and hold buildings either for ASU’s use at lowest possible occupancy cost or to add value or to monetize it to raise resources.
Invest in ground-up development and, building acquisitions within ASU Innovation Zones to create additional revenue streams to support ASU.
Real estate development that is essential to the University’s academic mission.
Real estate that provides space for the University’s ideas to incubate and prosper.
Real estate gifts received that University Realty accepts and monetizes.
Real estate that directly promotes the University’s lifelong learning mission.
Mirabella at ASU is a 20-story university-based senior housing facility unlike any other in the country that opened in December 2020. The building is located in downtown Tempe on the campus of Arizona State University and features 238 independent living units, and 52 health care units including assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing units. In addition to high-end services and amenities often found in exclusive hotels and resorts — including formal dining, an indoor swimming pool, art museum, health club and dog park — Mirabella at ASU provides residents access to intergenerational engagement including lifelong learning and cultural activities through ASU.
- Several retired physicians who reside at Mirabella have launched a pre-med mentoring group that assists more than 80 students with pre-professional development guidance. The group has been meeting monthly for over two years. Mirabella residents launched a charitable giving committee to foster a culture of philanthropy in the community. They established the Mirabella ASU Scholarship Fund to support Mirabella employees who are students at ASU.
- Musicians and artists in residence who are doctoral students at ASU live at Mirabella and create and delivery nearly 400 artistic engagements with residents, including performances, lessons and demonstrations.
- More than 100 residents audit ASU classes each semester, in both in-person and online modalities.
- Mirabella has collaborated with more than 15 distinct faculty-led ASU research projects ranging from the development of wearable technologies, social robotics, slip-resistant materials and circadian lighting.
- Residents serve on campus as mentors, professional teaching assistants, event judges and pen pals.
- More than $100 million in projected in–lieu of property taxes, over 99 years payable to ASU to support its academic mission.
- $7 million in prepaid 99-year land lease to ASU
- Mirabella provides opportunities for seniors to continue learning later in life and brings mentors and expertise to the ASU campus to help other students.
Facts and Figures
- 613,262 square feet
- 20 stories
- 238 independent living units and two floors dedicated to health care units
- 4 dining options within the building
- Awarded by several industry organizations:
- Musicians in Residence program: 2023 Innovation Award by LeadingAge Arizona.
- 2022 Innovation Award for its university-based retirement community concept by Leading Age Arizona.
- 2022 Promising Practice honorable mention by Mather Institute
- First place for continuing care retirement community/life plan community category by Senior Housing News Architecture & Design in 2021.
- RED award for best senior living project in 2020.
- City of Scottsdale is expected to receive $362.3 million in revenue over the next 30 years, while revenue to the state, county and city will be $1.4 billion during that timeframe, according to a 2021 report by Elliott D. Pollack & Company.
- There were approximately 4,200 employees working for companies located in SkySong offices, 120 people working at SkySong restaurants, eight employees in multi-family jobs and 50 hotel employees in 2019. Collectively, they will provide a direct total economic impact of $593.09 million annually at buildout, according to a 2021 report by Elliott D. Pollack & Company.
Facts and Figures
- 42-acre mixed-use development: five multi-tenant office buildings, Element at SkySong hotel, apartments and two parking garages.
- SkySong is zoned for 1.3 million square feet of mixed-used space at build out.
- Currently constructed:
- SkySong 1: approximately 150,000 square feet of space
- SkySong 2: approximately 150,000 square feet of space
- SkySong 3: approximately 145,000 square feet of space
- SkySong 4: approximately 145,000 square feet of space
- SkySong 5: approximately 154,000 square feet of space
- Element at SkySong Hotel: approximately 99,000 square feet of space
- SkySong Apartments: 325 Units
- In Planning:
- SkySong 6/7: approximately 354,000 square feet of total space
- 1 additional parking garage
- Plaza Companies is the master developer of the project in partnership with University Realty, the City of Scottsdale and Holualoa Companies.
- SkySong 5 LEED Gold certified, SkySong buildings 1-4 LEED Silver certified, the SkySong Element Hotel is LEED certified and, the apartments have received the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building certification.
- Awarded by several real estate industry organizations:
- SkySong 1: Best of NAIOP award for best redevelopment project in 2008
- SkySong 3: RED award for best mixed-use project in 2015, and NAIOP awards in 2013 for economic impact project of the year and speculative office project of the year
- SkySong 4: Best of NAIOP awards in 2016 for economic impact project of the year and speculative office projects of the year
- SkySong: Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Award for Art in Public Places in 2023
The Fulton Center
The Fulton Center was built in 2005 and is the home of the ASU Foundation for A New American University as well as university administration and leadership, university initiatives and retail and dining establishments. It is also the home of ASU Enterprise Partners, the parent company of the ASU Foundation, University Realty and other nonprofit organizations that serve ASU.. The building was dedicated to Ira. A. and Mary Lou Fulton, longtime supporters of ASU, who have invested in scholarships, colleges and initiatives. The foundation proposed the office building be on ASU property to engage donors and potential donors in campus activities. The Fulton Center was ASU’s first building LEED-certified for reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing water use and using recycled and regionally available building materials in its construction. The Fulton Center set the stage for many environmentally sustainable buildings constructed on ASU’s campuses in the years that followed.
- Core mission project that provides office space for ASU at below market rental rates.
- Enables the ASU Foundation to be on campus to engage donors in campus activities.
Facts and Figures
- 140,000 square feet
- 6 stories
- 1,200-space parking structure
- 2-story, 15,000-square-foot retail component
- ASU’s first LEED-certified building
The Brickyard on Mill
The Brickyard on Mill is a seven-story, 202,000-square-foot mixed-use project on about 2.2 acres and includes retail, office and restaurant space. The ASU Foundation acquired the building in 2004 through a bargain sale that ultimately saved ASU millions in rent payments over the long-term lease term for office, meeting and classroom space. The Brickyard is home to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering dean’s office, the ASU Art Museum’s Brickyard Ceramics Research Center and the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. It also houses the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering, a collaborative research venture between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Fulton Engineering; the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Decision Theater. Other buildings in this complex include Artisan Courtyard and Orchid House. In 2005, a gift from J. Orin Edson, philanthropist and entrepreneur, established the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative and an endowment to help ASU students pursue entrepreneurial interests. A portion of the gift refurbished space for the students to work in Brickyard during the program’s early years.
- Core mission project that provides office space for ASU at below market rental rates. ASU pays rent payments that match the bond repayment and will eventually pay off the bond debt. The initial deal structure saved ASU $16 million in rent payments over 15 years. The university’s ongoing rent is about 50% of market rent rates.
- Home to the ASU Art Museum’s Brickyard Ceramics Research Center’s labs, the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering and the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering, a collaborative research venture between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Fulton Engineering and the Center for Science and the Imagination.
Facts and Figures
- 202,000 square feet
- 7 stories
Barrett and O’Connor Washington Center is an eight-story, 100-year old building located just three blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C., purchased and renovated with $35 million in bond financing. The center is named for the legacies of two women whose contributions have shaped public life nationally and globally. The center houses about 20 ASU programs, including the McCain Institute for International Leadership; the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. The strategic placement of these programs enables partnerships with policymakers, influencers, think tank experts, nonprofit organizations, federal research agencies, national associations and other colleges and universities. ASU’s physical presence strengthens its voices on national issues including education, health, economic development, the environment, social justice and other global issues. Additionally, ASU students have the opportunity to engage in invaluable learning opportunities, real-world practice and rich cultural experiences that aren’t available outside of the nation’s capital.
- 16 ASU units and initiatives have full-time representation at the center
- More than 150 events are held there per year, allowing ASU faculty and students to collaborate and innovate with top government executives.
- More than 50 federal agencies are engaged through ASU programming
- Nearly 30 courses, programs and internships are available through the center
- Core mission project that provides ASU space at below market rates. ASU pays rent payments that match the bond repayment and will eventually pay off the bond debt.
- 32,000 square feet
- 8 stories
- 3 blocks from the White House and the same block as the International Monetary Fund campus
- State of the art rooftop conference facility and world-renowned Decision Theater
University Realty partnered with The Georgetown Company to redevelop the iconic Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles. The five-story, 100,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-styled building was built in 1914 and designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle. The building is scheduled to open in 2021 with a complete renovation to its original grandeur highlighting its high ceilings, hand-painted tiles and detailed iron and wood work, while adding modernized interiors. It will be occupied by mixed-use tenants on the first floor and Arizona State University will occupy 87% of the building for programming, collaboration, outreach and research. ASU has a strong presence in California with more than 17,000 students enrolled at ASU who are from California. ASU has more than 130 venture-backed technologies, which are 80% backed by California companies. ASU is an engaged member of the Los Angeles Venture Association to drive forward the university’s technology expertise. ASU will offer programs delivered by ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, beginning in 2021.
- ASU has more than 17,000 students enrolled from California.
- The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians donated $2.5 million of a $5 million donation that was earmarked for capital improvements to renovate the historic building.
- ASU is an engaged member of the Los Angeles Venture Association to drive the university’s technology expertise and has more than 130 venture-backed technologies, which are 80% backed by California companies.
- The university offers programs delivered by ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
- The building is listed as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument and was completely restored to its original grandeur.
- Awarded by several real estate industry organizations:
- Southern California project of the year by Engineering News Record in 2022
- Citation design award for adaptive reuse, renovation and historic preservation by the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Architectural Award for renovation and restoration by the LA Business Council and the Architectural Awards Jury in 2023
- American Architecture Awards
- 100,000 square feet of space
- 5 stories
- 85,771 square feet leased by ASU (87%)
- Designed by renowned female California architect, Julia Morgan, who designed more than 700 buildings in California and is best known for her design of the Hearst Castle.
- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument
777 Tower at Novus is a six-story multi-tenant office building at the northwest corner of Rural Road and University Drive on land owned by Arizona State University. The LEED-certified building is part of the Novus Innovation Corridor, a 350-acre, multi-phased development, which will encompass approximately 10 million square feet of urban mixed-use opportunities, including State Farm Insurance’s 2.1-million-square-foot regional hub in Marina Heights. The Novus Innovation Corridor marks the next step in ASU’s vision of the New American University and the focal point of the region’s progress toward becoming an international hub of innovation. The corridor was created out of legislation that was signed into law in 2010 that enables the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to work with ASU to establish a defined district where all land is owned by the university and annual in lieu of tax assessments are imposed on developments located within the district. The proceeds of those assessments are used to construct and improve ASU athletic facilities in lieu of state revenue. The building is home to ASU’s Herberger Gallery, University City Exchange, University Real Estate Development, Master of Design, Master of Innovation and Venture Development and the Innovation Studio. Infosys, a multinational consulting company that develops client solutions in machine learning, artificial intelligence, user experience and advanced digital technologies is leasing 60,000 square feet of space.. The property was developed in partnership with Ryan Companies. The ownership entity sold the property at the end of 2020.
- Raises funding to cover debt service in tax-exempt bonds to renovate ASU athletic facilities
- Infosys, which is ranked on the top 100 list of Time Magazine’s World’s Best Companies, is partnering with ASU to accelerate the workforce.
- $2.1 million in prepaid 99-year lease payments plus $25,866 in fees
- $267.2 million in in-lieu property taxes collected over 99-year period
Facts and Figures
- 160,000 square feet of space
- Six-story office building
- 8,000 square feet of retail space
- LEED Silver certified
- Awarded by several real estate industry organizations:
- RED award for best office project of more than 150,000 square feet in 2020.
- Best of NAIOP awards in 2020 for sustainable project of the year, talk of the town and Novus Innovation Corridor – Phase III for economic impact project of the year.
Studios 5C is a multi-tenant, three-story office and retail building at the southwest corner of College Avenue and Veterans Way in Tempe, adjacent to Desert Financial Arena, Sun Devil Football Stadium and the University Tower dorms. It sits at the northern entry to ASU and is walkable to Mill Avenue. The building was developed in 1999 and privately held until 2019 when the owner gifted part of the building and sold the rest to University Realty through a bargain sale.
- Completes ownership of city block, along with dated dormitories to enable future redevelopment benefitting ASU’s anticipated growth
- Acquisition was made in part by a donor contribution
Facts and Figures
- 11,962 square feet of land
- 18,629 rentable square feet of lease space
- 3 stories
- 23 regular parking spaces plus one handicap space
- Across the street from Downtown Tempe’s main train and bus transit station
Arizona State University’s beginning was because of a gift of land. In 1885 local butcher shop owners George and Martha Wilson donated 20 acres of pastureland to build the Territorial Normal School, which later came to be ASU. Gifts of real estate continue to provide scholarship for students and resources for faculty.
In addition to receiving gifts of real estate on behalf of ASU for students and faculty to pursue their passions, the University Realty real estate professionals has created opportunities to enhance the community. It is made up of seasoned real estate professionals who use their expertise to raise resources for the benefit of others.
While each project brings its own benefits to its surrounding community, ultimately they provide more revenue and leased space options to ASU to as it continues to expand its footprint in Arizona and nationally.
SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, has resulted in a significant economic impact for the City of Scottsdale and the region. T project’s five commercial buildings, hotel and restaurants were expected to produce an estimated $58.2 million in annual economic output, according to a 2021 report by Elliott D. Pollack & Company. In this same period, SkySong is projected to create an estimated $15.2 billion of total personal income in Scottsdale, and $16.5 billion regionally. Additionally, the project has improved property rates and attracted numerous companies to the area.
University Realty’s development of the Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center at ASU offers educational opportunities for students in the nation’s capital and leverages the expertise of world-class faculty across a wide range of areas. ASU forges partnerships with think tanks, federal research agencies, policy councils, nonprofits, national associations and other colleges and universities to address society’s challenges related to education, health, economic development, the environment, social justice and other global issues.
University Realty considers each development project and gift of real estate carefully and measures its impact on the community and benefits to ASU before moving forward.