By Sam Phillips
Students who live on campus will have one more place to choose from when deciding where they will reside for the fall semester of 2016.
Youngstown State University hired Hallmark Campus Communities to create a new housing complex that will be open in August 2016.
Like the University Courtyards and the Flats, it will feature apartment-style units instead of the traditional dorm setting where multiple students share a room and living space. The new facility will be located on Fifth Avenue behind Smith Hall.
Greg Morgione, associate general counsel to YSU, said the conversations started a while ago.
“Hallmark representatives came in and toured the campus early on in President Tressel’s tenure, and they thought that Fifth Avenue would be a great spot for student housing so we continued on having conversations with them,” Morgione said.
The building will house 162 beds. Morgione said this is a comfortable size.
“We are confident that we will be able to fill 162 beds,” Morgione said.
Neal McNally, vice president for finance and administration at YSU, said the developer will fully fund the 8 million dollar project.
“They’re really doing us a favor in my mind by putting up a really nice housing facility,” McNally said. “Obviously they are going to make some money on it over the long term, but if we wanted to do this ourselves, we would have to put at least 8 million dollars into that. So from a financial perspective, keeping this off our balance sheet is really beneficial.”
The university decided to move forward on this because the Courtyards and Flats are reaching their maximum number of occupants.
“Our apartment style student housing — particularly the Courtyards — is at full capacity, so we anticipated that we would need more apartment style housing on campus,” Morgione said.
While some students may prefer the traditional residence hall setting, many students enjoy living in the Courtyards.
Anthony Crowe, a junior majoring in geography, has been living in the Courtyards for three years.
“I prefer the Courtyards to the dorms because you get more privacy, and you get your own bathroom, which I like personally,” Crowe said. “It’s a good place to live and a good place to meet people.”
The university would also like to broaden its outreach to counter decreases in enrollment. In order to do this, they need to create more space for students who are not able to commute.
“The population in the tri-country area has shifted over the last 20 years, so traditionally we have gotten most of our students from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties,” McNally said. “As those populations continue to shift, we want to maintain our student body. We’re going to have to go outside of our region — whether it’s western Pennsylvania or Columbus — and those students are going to need a place to live.”
Certain amenities such as free laundry facilities or outdoor recreational areas can increase the appeal of a housing complex.
According to McNally, the main focuses for the first year will be finishing construction before August 2016 and finding enough occupants to fill the rooms. If they are successful, the company will consider a second phase that includes adding more features.
“The developer has aspirations to do a much larger build on Fifth Avenue, which would include some possible amenities such as retail space on the ground floor, restaurants and things like that,” McNally said.
Morgione said he is optimistic about the facility.
“We are very excited. Hallmark is a very experienced student housing developer,” Morgione said. “They have done great projects at other colleges such as Ohio U, Kent State, Cincinnati and Akron. We are expecting a very impressive product next fall.”