Third off-campus student housing project planned for Edwardsville

News-DemocratAugust 2, 2013 

— As Southern Illinois University Edwardsville prepares for students to move in for the fall semester, a developer is planning a third off-campus student housing project to give future students more options.

Two off-campus student-oriented housing developments have been built in the last few years in Edwardsville. Both Enclave properties are all-student apartment complexes that allow students to rent a private room in a common living space with two or three other students. Rent is all-inclusive, and each student is responsible only for himself -- a solution halfway between on-campus dorm rooms and the free-for-all of off-campus student apartments.

Now Optimus LLC, in the middle of a merger with Clayco Realty, is developing 120 units with 384 beds for a 10-acre property set back from the business district along Illinois 157. The vacant property lies between two traditional multi-family housing developments: Rottingham Court and Cherry Hills.

"We're trying to keep the standards high in this community, and these folks, just like Enclave, have done that," said City Administrator Ben Dickmann. "We're very pleased with this proposal."

Optimus' proposal for a planned-use development project already was approved by the planning and zoning commissions and was reviewed Tuesday by the Public Services Committee of the Edwardsville City Council.

Dickmann said planned-use development designation is necessary because the project will need variances for four-bedroom units, which are not allowed by Edwardsville's multi-family housing regulations, as well as a few other variances.

"I think they're reasonable requests, but it's up to the council to make the final decision on it," Dickmann said. Some details of the proposal are being worked on between Optimus and city staff, Dickmann said.

The location is ideal for SIUE students, according to Rob Lochner, vice president of development for Optimus. "It's very close to campus and is already zoned for multi-family," Lochner said. "It's near a lot of other amenities, like retail and restaurants ... and it's on (Illinois) 157, so it's easy for students to catch the bus."

The project, titled "The Edge," will allow two or four students to share a common kitchen and laundry area but each will have a private room, study area and bathroom. The development includes a clubhouse with fitness facility, game room, cafe, tanning salon and outdoor pool and barbecue area with sand volleyball and a basketball court.

The total cost of the project has not been released. Lochner said they hope to start construction this fall and be ready to open next fall. "We like the market (in Edwardsville)," he said. "The demand is certainly there for purpose-built student housing."

Dickmann said the project is also a benefit to the city and in line with its comprehensive plan. "One of the advantages of a project like this is that it doesn't bring a burden to the school district, but does add to the property values," he said.

The Edge is held in committee; a vote by the full City Council is not scheduled, according to Dickmann.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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