The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa broke ground Thursday, January 13 on the Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE), an innovation and entrepreneurship center/student housing facility on the site of the former Atherton YMCA across University Avenue from UH’s flagship campus.

Scheduled to be completed in 2023, the $70 million live-learn-work facility will have 7,263 square feet of multi-purpose co-working, meeting, lab and classroom space, as well as 374 student housing beds for undergraduate and graduate students from across the UH System.

building rendering

RISE is being built under a public-private partnership between UH, UH Foundation and Hunt Companies. Moss is the general contractor on the project, The Wilhelm Group is the construction manager and Design Partners Inc. is the lead architect.

“It has taken extraordinary leadership and commitment on the part of all of the key partners to collaborate in new ways so we can begin construction of the university’s first major new construction P3 project,” said UH President David Lassner. “The outpouring of support from our community validates our shared vision to build this innovative facility that will help us nurture the next generation of student entrepreneurs, who will help transform Hawaiʻi‘s economy.”

The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, located in UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business, will operate the entrepreneurship program at RISE, while B.HOM Student Living, which manages 28,000 beds at 24 universities in the U.S., will manage the day-to-day operations of the student housing facility.

rendering of building

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this bold new vision of economic diversification, supporting and building a pipeline for new ventures through an entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s accessible to all majors, at all campuses, across UH,” said Vance Roley, dean of the Shidler College of Business. “We are extremely grateful for the long-standing support of the business community, donors, alumni and friends who have led the way and helped us lay a solid foundation for entrepreneurship education at UH. We could not be here today without their support.”

UH Foundation purchased the one-acre property on University Avenue in 2017 for $8 million. To date, $2 million has been raised from individuals, corporate and foundation donors, including Walter A. Dods Jr., Rich and Eileen Wacker, American Savings Bank, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, Hawaiian Electric and Island Insurance Foundation. The funds will be used for the RISE center’s furnishings, fixtures and equipment along with operational programs and student scholarships over the first 10 years.

“It is gratifying to see this important milestone happen after five years of thoughtful planning,” said Tim Dolan, CEO of UH Foundation and VP of advancement at UH. “The donors’ generosity and hard work of our partners to make UH’s first P3 a reality is inspiring. Mahalo to everyone who has worked to get us to this day.”

The $70 million construction cost is being funded primarily by tax-exempt bonds, which will be repaid with student housing fees. No taxpayer funds will be used for the project.

“Our team is honored to play a role in the development of RISE, which has established a model for P3 projects in the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Steve Colón, president of Hunt’s Hawaiʻi Development Division. “This P3 will deliver a first-of-its-kind project that is absolutely unique in Hawaiʻi. We look forward to future students at RISE helping transform the state’s economy because of their experiences in this innovative new center.”

Demolition of the existing Mary Atherton Richards House at the corner of University and Seaview avenues was completed in November 2021, and interior demolition of the historic Charles Atherton House followed.

several people turning dirt with wooden poles

This project is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.