The second phase of Ohio Wesleyan University’s student housing plan was approved recently by City Council.
Existing homes at 86 and 94 Rowland Ave. (on the eastern portion) have been demolished, and a 24-unit, two-story, 6,103-square-foot house with 10 double bedrooms and four single bedrooms will 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.
“The project has advanced faster than any of us thought it might, and that’s due to the availability of some funding sources,” said David Efland, the city’s planning director, at the June 13 council meeting. “This would be at the corner of Washington (Street) and Rowland, the opposite of the very first building that was built.”
Two more SLUs will be built in between the ends as the university receives funding.
In response to a question by council, each SLU would be painted a different color, said project architect Randy Reger of BSHM Architects. The first SLU was a bright yellow.
“The actual colors have not been determined yet,” Reger said, “but they will fit in with the neighborhood.”
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.
Zoning administrator Lance Schultz said at a planning commission meeting earlier this month 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, with more to come with future phases of the project.
Reger said during the planning commission meeting that 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 of park land and open space it has.
“Ohio Wesleyan University, they’re an anchor to our community,” Efland said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.