A student-oriented apartment building the Common Council approved this week for Marion Road could have positive spillover effects on the neighborhoods surrounding the UW Oshkosh campus, according to the developer and city officials.
“Single-family landlords will … have to improve their properties,” said Kyle Bach, the CEO of Annex Student Living, which will be getting about $4 million in tax incentives after a July 11 vote by the council.
His company, based in Indianapolis, specializes in building student housing at regional campuses, community colleges and Division II and Division III universities. It currently operates 14 housing complexes in six states.
Although Annex charges prices higher than dormitories or other private landlords, its approach offers greater flexibility to renters and more amenities as well as activities designed to create a sense of community among residents.
The Oshkosh Annex project will replace the old Lamico factory. It will provide 310 bedrooms in 140 units and is scheduled to open in a year. Rents are projected to range from $499 a month for sharing a four-bedroom to $764 for a one-bedroom unit, according to documents on file with the city.
Bach acknowledged that much lower-cost alternatives are available in what he called the “shadow market,” made up of single-family homes and duplexes that have been converted to rental housing. Here lease rates may be as low as $250 a month.
But Annex will provide private bathrooms, modern appliances and utility service along with other features that Bach thinks will be extremely attractive to students.
“When we put in a new community and there is a shadow market existing, … those landlords have the ability to then throw away their asset or improve their asset to compete with us … because the student has a choice,” Bach said.
He said students may initially be drawn to cut-rate rents. But “when they are sharing a closet with one of their peers in a substandard living environment, … they can understand the validity of living with something like us.”
Mayor Steve Cummings said he is looking forward to the effect that this project may have on other student housing. “It may force those landlords that own some of the properties in the off campus housing [area]… to start improving them, which is the whole goal of our rental inspection program.”
In a unanimous vote, the council agreed to support the project to the tune of $4.45 million by foregoing future tax payments. Most this sum will be developer incentives, but the city also expects to spend money on upgrading nearby streets and a bike path.
Photo: By fall 2018 student housing is expected to replace the old Lamico factory on Marion Road.