Developer plans apartments near campus for UT students

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

A Texas developer has secured land near the University of Toledo and is planning a large “luxury apartment” complex for students.

JPI, Inc., of Irving, Tex., hopes to begin construction on its project, to be called Jefferson Commons, by May. University officials applauded the move, saying they want to see more students living on or near campus.

“We know we currently cannot meet the demand for on-campus housing,” Joe Brennan, university spokesman, said. “This sort of thing can really help enhance the campus experience.”

JPI has made a business of building residential communities for students near university campuses across the country. The company runs 14 Jefferson Commons complexes, most of them in southern cities.

But the company is planning an expansion into more northern cities. Along with Toledo, Jefferson Commons complexes are planned for the Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Missouri.

“We’ve been looking north, and we’ve been examining Toledo for about a year,” said John Dinan, JPI’s senior vice president for development.

The company has signed a contract to purchase an unspecified number of acres along Dorr Street, west of Secor Road. That location would be a short walk from the western edge of UT’s Bancroft Street campus. JPI is doing environmental and market testing to decide whether to go ahead with the project, which would include roughly 200 units. Mr. Dinan said that rents for the units have not been determined.

UT President Vik Kapoor has repeatedly said he wants to make UT a more residential campus, and the university is expected to begin building dormitories in the next few years.

But even though Jefferson Commons would be off-campus, UT officials said they did not view the development as competition for their own plans.

“We welcome it, because it gives students another option,” Mr. Brennan said.

The university has room for 2,883 students on campus. Last year, about 300 students requested on-campus housing, but were rejected for lack of space. Mr. Brennan said about 7,000 UT students live within three miles of campus.

Other JPI projects have included amenities that students find attractive, including high-speed Internet connections, access to office equipment, and washers and dryers in each apartment.

If construction begins in May – and that would require zoning changes and environmental testing to go smoothly – Mr. Dinan said the complex could be open in time for the fall semester of 2001.

The company has tentatively scheduled a neighborhood meeting for Feb. 9 to discuss the project. A site for the meeting has not been determined.