The second phase of Ohio Wesleyan University’s student housing plan was approved recently by the city of Delaware’s planning commission.

The existing homes at 86 and 94 Rowland Ave. (on the eastern portion) would be demolished, and a 24-unit, two-story, 6,103-square-foot house with 10 double bedrooms and four single bedrooms would be built. The university calls the student housing a small living unit, or SLU.

Ohio Wesleyan had the preliminary plans for phases 1-5, as well as the final development plan for phase 1, approved last summer. Three homes on Rowland were razed, and the first SLU (on the western portion) has been constructed and will be occupied this fall.

Two more SLUs will be built in between the ends as the university receives funding. Each SLU would be painted a different color. In the fifth phase of the plan, Rowland Avenue may be abandoned as a public street, and OWU would extend its “jaywalk” concept. The nearby fire station has approved the plan, but the city and university would have to sign off before the abandonment could occur.

During last week’s commission meeting, zoning administrator Lance Schultz said that the university has prepared a Rowland Avenue parking study, which indicated no additional parking would be required in phase 2 of the development.

“There is a 161 parking space surplus of student parking throughout the campus (882 parking space supply — 721 parking space demand),” states the staff report. “There is an existing 10-space parking lot located just west of the proposed phase 2 SLU along with on-street parking to provide parking in the proximity of the proposed building.”

The landscaping would add 14 shrubs on the site. Commission member Dean Prall said the bushes represented “very bare landscaping on 6,000 square feet.” He said he wanted to see some trees planted on the site.

“My concern is planting trees now, and having to tear them out later,” said commission member Jim Halter. He said once the development is further along, the commission will have more say on the landscaping.

Randy Reger of BSHM Architects said the “four houses will be packed pretty tightly,” but they were “not opposed to adding a tree per building.”

Although there will be no park land or open space with the development, the abandonment of Rowland Street would represent added open space. OWU is second to the city in the amount park land and open space it has.

City Council will next hear about the plan, most likely at its meeting on June 13.

A rendering of a small living unit on Rowland Avenue. rendering of a small living unit on Rowland Avenue. Courtesy illustration | Ohio Wesleyan University

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.