AKRON, Ohio — The Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in Akron, Ohio, has partnered with Akron-based Signet Development, to construct a new on-campus residential housing village for NEOMED.
The residential village is part of a university master expansion plan, where the collective work will more than double the 450,000-square-foot campus. Signet is set to provide development and finance services to NEOMED, including direction and oversight of the design, construction, management and finance activities.
“We thought that with the growth of our pharmacy program and medical program that there were a growing number of students who would be interested in housing. We thought that we could save commuting time and some overall cost if we priced this correctly,” said John Wray, vice president for administration and finance for NEOMED. “Also, building the culture and climate on our campus by having all of our students together and having units that were very focused on their needs seemed to fit the plan of the university.”
In addition, two surveys were done by NEOMED and over 75 percent of the student body, both incoming and existing, were very interested in living on-campus and staying nearby, according to Wray.
Currently, the student body for the College of Medicine has 500 students and is projected to grow to 660 students over the next four years, according to Wray. The College of Pharmacy currently has nearly 275 students and the College of Graduate Studies has just recently started with approximately 50 students. NEOMED plans to target the housing for students in the College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy, considering for the first three years at least, they will need to be on campus frequently.
This project will be the first on-campus residential housing for the university, and will include three, four-story buildings located in the northwest part of campus. The village will include private parking for the 340 residents and a total of 185 units will fill the 270,000-square-foot space.
A combination of one and two-bedroom units will come fully furnished and house kitchen appliances, living room furniture and a washer and dryer in addition to a private study area, walk-in closet and a bathroom. Single units are 600 square feet and double suites are about 1,100 square feet. For doubles, each student will receive his or her own private bedroom and bath.
“We focused on creating an atmosphere where students can study very hard and be very focused in what they do because this is a very demanding curriculum and we want to make sure that they get all of the tools there, but also give them the ability to release some of the pressure and demands that are being put on them,” said Wray.
Funding for the $130 million housing village is set to come from the rentals of the apartment units, a move that is not traditionally done, according to Wray. Instead, the university has created a separate, stand-alone entity with Signet called ERS Properties Inc., which will work specifically on this project.
“We created this entity to allow the university to lease the space under a ground lease. They’ve [the university] leased it to ERS and then ERS will work with the developer for the design and construction,” said Wray.
With construction time cut down by years, due to not being a state-procured project through partnering with ERS, Wray believes that the university will continue to use this funding plan for future on-campus housing needs.
Construction for the new housing village began in July of this year, and will go until July 2013, with students moving in the following month.