Ohio State University students seeking off-campus housing have more choices than ever, with five new university-area apartment complexes accepting applications for the fall.
The new residences, most of them on North High Street, will be fully furnished and include fitness centers, pools, covered parking, rooftop terraces, private bathrooms, theater rooms, washers and dryers, quartz countertops, 50-inch televisions — and prices to match.
“This year is definitely the largest influx in new student housing that I can recall at OSU,” said Ryan Szymanski, president of Edwards Communities Development Co., which has developed several student-housing complexes near OSU, including the Wellington, set to open in August at North High and 17th Avenue.
The five complexes will add more than 1,000 bedrooms to the neighborhood, but whether the rooms will fill up for the start of the 2018-19 academic year is uncertain.
The developers, who remain confident that the complexes fill a need, are scrambling to fill the spaces — a task made more difficult by having only construction sites to show prospective tenants. Most of the complexes are less than half leased for fall, well behind where campus-area landlords want to be at this time of year.
“You can’t put 1,000 new beds out there and not expect some blood in the street,” said Tom Heilman, owner of Hometeam Properties, a veteran campus-area landlord who is managing two of the new complexes: Wilson Place (at North High and East Lane Avenue) and the Point on Lane (at West Lane and Tuttle Park Place).
“It’s going to be very challenging,” he said. “You can’t be 30 to 50 percent occupied now and not expect your butt to be handed to you your first year.”
Heilman said he expects the complexes to offer price concessions if they don’t start filling up soon.
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“I think we’re going to learn a little lesson,” he said. “It’s expensive, although the dorms are, too. They (tenants) get their workout area, amenities and theaters, and the nice common spaces, but I don’t know if most students are willing to pay $1,000 a bed.”
Landlords also are hampered by not having apartments to show tenants. Construction is well along on some of the projects — the Wellington, for example, is framed in — but workers are scurrying to finish the others in time to welcome students in August.
One complex, Luxe Belle (on the west side of North High between 9th and 10th avenues) is still being framed, although a spokeswoman for its developer, Preferred Living, said it will be finished in time.
Luxe Belle will operate as a conventional apartment building.
The other new complexes — also including Uncommon Columbus (at North High and 7th Avenue) — operate as student apartments. In such arrangements, tenants rent by the bedroom, sharing a kitchen and living room. Almost all bedrooms in the new complexes have private bathrooms.
Advertised rents range from $799 a month for a room in large, multi-bedroom apartments to $1,569 for a one-bedroom apartment occupied by one person.
By contrast, off-campus single apartments can be found for less than $800 a month and two-bedroom apartments for less than $1,200.
“These are really ramping up the price point,” said Wayne Garland, owner of Buckeye Real Estate, one of the largest campus-area landlords.
OSU sophomore Michael Pirovolos considered some of the new places for the fall, but quickly bailed after seeing the prices.
“They’re exorbitant,” said Pirovolos, 20, a business major from Canton. “It would be much more expensive to live there.”
Instead, he and five friends arranged to rent a duplex northeast of campus at a cost of about $600 a month each.
“We all have our own bedrooms, and there are two bathrooms,” Pirovolos said. “We got really lucky for the location and price, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. We put in a lot of legwork.”
Michael Lee, a junior from Dublin, agreed that the new places are cost-prohibitive.
Like Pirovolos, Lee, 21, shares a duplex with friends, for which each pays less than $500 a month. He plans to stay there for the fall.
“Most of my friends try to find below $500 or $600 (a month),” Lee said. “I don’t know many people, maybe a few, who can afford these” new apartments.
Despite all of the housing competition and a 2016 university rule requiring OSU sophomores to live on campus, older apartments and homes in the area are leasing well this spring, managers say.
“The sophomore rule we absorbed easily,” Garland said.
“This year, we were more concerned with all this new private-market supply that’s coming online, but so far — and we’re only in March — we have 22 places left to rent out of 1,000.”
Heilman said Hometeam’s older properties are leasing well, too.
“Our value stuff, there’s demand there — and it’s not just coming from Ohio State,” he said. “You’ve got people coming from Capital and Columbus State. They want to be where the action is.”
Szymanski, who is involved in developing student housing nationwide for Edwards Communities, said the Ohio State area is merely catching up to other university towns. Edwards, for example, is building a 750-bed apartment complex next to Florida State University in Tallahassee, he said.
“I’ve traveled to over 35 or 40 different student-housing markets, and Ohio State was definitely behind the curve in this type of upscale housing close to campus. Now, in terms of amounts being built, it’s on par with other universities.”
Heilman noted that only one large student apartment building is underway for 2019 (the View on Pavey Square, on North High Street, north of Lane Avenue), which will allow demand to catch up to supply.
“Next year will be fine,” he said. “This year will be slow.”