Large student housing development proposed
A Georgia company proposes to build a cluster of student housing homes west of the U.S. 11/460 bypass in Blacksburg called The Retreat.
Landmark Properties Inc. has not yet filed any plans with the town, but has posted a verbal description and pictures of the proposed development on its website and met with nearby residents.
The Retreat is conceived as 192 rental units in detached cottages on about 48 acres north of Glade Road, about a half-mile walk from the Virginia Tech campus.
Landmark, a private student housing company based in Athens, Ga., has contracted to buy the land from a limited liability company that previously proposed but did not go forward with a subdivision there, said Eric Sallee, managing member of Glade Heights LLC.
There would be two to five bedrooms per unit, a clubhouse, pool, basketball court and water-detention ponds, company information said. The construction cost for The Retreat was not available.
Jason Doornbos, vice president of development at Landmark, said specific plans are being developed for submission to the town.
“We’d like to be in a position to start construction next year,” he said.
Nearby residents have raised “numerous concerns and questions,” according to a statement on Landmark’s site, which summarized an April 18 meeting that spanned more than three hours.
The company pledged a response to the concerns soon.
The company says Blacksburg lacks sufficient student housing to accommodate a student body at Tech of more than 28,000 that is steadily growing.
A company study found that 8,204 bedrooms in eight off-campus projects built for students are virtually all taken. As a result of the scarcity of available units, rents in the market have risen 4.1 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, Landmark said. In addition, students are taking up residence in single-family neighborhoods, which the company predicted would occur less if The Retreat is built.
Landmark estimates Blacksburg needs 901 bedrooms today to correct the gap the Landmark study found. The Retreat would add 800 bedrooms, the company said.
Landmark is billing the project as low-density and replete with amenities and green space. To prevent negative impacts on surrounding homes, the company is pledging to fine disruptive tenants. Eviction will follow repeated policy violations, the company said. Gatherings of 15 or more people must be registered in advance with on-site management, the company said.
In addition, “The Retreat will offer a free unit to a police officer,” the company site said.
Landmark says it has developed similar projects in various university communities including Athens; Columbia, S.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Denton, Lubbock and San Marcos, Texas.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661