TUFF first partnered with Georgia State University (GSU) on the purchase and renovation of the Rialto Theater Complex in 1990 as part of President Carl Patton’s “Main Street Master Plan” to expand GSU’s footprint while revitalizing downtown Atlanta. TUFF invested $4.8 million into the Rialto complex, which consisted of two office buildings and an amphitheater suitable for world class performances. The Rialto became the new home of the GSU School of Music, as well as becoming a cornerstone of the downtown Atlanta performing arts community.
TUFF paired its investment with grants from the Woodruff Foundation and the GSU Foundation to purchase and renovate the facilities for GSU’s use. TUFF owned the facility and leased it back to GSU at a below-market rate for 15 years until GSU acquired the Rialto from TUFF at a below-market cost, effectively the outstanding TUFF investment amount.
President Patton again called on TUFF in 2002 to help transition the institution from a predominantly commuter institution into a residential university with the creation of the University Lofts – a 14 story residential tower on the downtown campus. TUFF invested $40.4 million in a combination of tax-exempt and taxable bonds to finance the development of the student housing complex containing over 500 beds that helped the University with an essential need. The residential development met GSU’s specific requirements, including interior amenities for students and a unique exterior.
Through a recent refinancing of the University Lofts, TUFF agreed to provide a gift of $2.75 million which current GSU President Dr. Brian Blake will use in support of his President’s Fund for Excellence. Dr. Blake’s passion for building innovation, improving student outcomes, and creating institutional identity in downtown Atlanta aligns with TUFF’s mission and this gift enables Dr. Blake to invest heavily in his initiatives. In addition to the current gift, TUFF will gift the entire facility to GSU at the end of the facility lease term.
The future is bright for GSU under Dr. Blake’s leadership and TUFF is proud to strengthen the 32-year relationship between TUFF and GSU, first established in 1990 with President Carl Patton.