Local developer to give housing opportunity to grad students

By Jordan Corona
Staff Writer

A new idea in South Waco may give a special housing opportunity to Truett and social work graduate students. Brenner Campbell is the local real estate developer who has taken up the project, citing it as a chance to practice “intentional community” and calling it Truett Village.

Campbell, who completed his master’s of divinity at Truett, has been in real estate development in Waco since 2003. He’s an active duty Air Force chaplain and is stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California.

Lindsay Swain is in her last year in the Baylor-Truett social work master’s of divinity degree program. She’s a consultant for Campbell’s project, leading focus groups to get student ideas about the subject of communal living.

“Graduate students have diverse needs,” she said.

After talking with graduate students who are single, married with and without families, she said she still wants more input.

“The idea is not to just have one type of student living there,” she said.

Truett Village may be an interesting, affordable housing option marketed for graduate students at Truett and at the school of social work, but it’s not associated with the university or the seminary. Campbell said the housing development was named after George W. Truett, who he thinks, represented the teachings of Jesus well.

“Baylor University does not own George W. Truett’s name,” Campbell said. “There is no affiliation with the university or the seminary.”

The housing development, which Campbell said is to encourage the concept of living in community, will sit on more than 140 acres, off University Parks Drive, past the Ferrell Center. Right now, the project is a privately supported endeavor. Besides the cost of land, which Campbell footed himself, the building developments are possible through investor support.

But Campbell wants to integrate a non-profit business model to benefit seminary and social work graduate students. Ideally, a trust would own the rents and financial obligations from the properties, Campbell said. The profits would be donated to Truett and the school of social work like an endowment and to fund scholarships.

“It would not be owned by Baylor or the seminary,” Campbell said.

The non-profit trust would be made up of seminary and school of social work graduates to make sure the funds get to the seminary and the school of social work.

“It’s been a desire of mine to do a student housing development specifically for Truett and social work graduate students,” Campbell said.

Baylor owns Browning Square and the Quadrangle for graduate student housing, but not specifically for those at the seminary.

“As a real estate developer, I said ‘ hey, I know Baylor’s not going to be doing any housing for the seminary, so I’ll just do it myself,’” Campbell said.