Charter school developers are experiencing what homebuilders and homebuyers already know — the market is tight and building materials are off-the-charts expensive.
Case in point: after trying and failing to lease 15 different properties, the new Utah Mountain School finally secured the building that formerly housed Capstone Academy, which closed in December 2020.
But having gone so long without a property to show prospective students, the school failed to enroll enough kids to break even, and had to abandon their plans entirely.
MORE: Utah charter schools are at a crossroads
“The pricing has gone crazy,” says Travis Yates, who works in real estate at Colliers International and sometimes advises charter school operators. “As all these prices increase for land and construction, those costs are passed on to the tenant.”
Kim Frank with the Utah Charter Network says the development of future charter schools will certainly be stalled as a result.
Several schools that were looking to build expansions are redrawing blueprints, taking the inflated cost into consideration. One such charter school, Providence Hall, wanted to add 13 new classrooms, but director Nate Marshall says they’re considering scaling back the expansion.
Yates thinks the tough market presents an opportunity.
“I think we’re going to see charter schools get even more scrappy and creative on what they can use as a school,” he said.
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