Dinkytown to see more student housing next year

Jared Roddy

Students will have another housing option next August when the cranes and dump trucks finally rumble away from the hole in the ground that used to be a Pizza Hut.

Brett Naylor, of Urban Land, LLC, is developing the 1300 block of University Avenue Southeast into a six-story building with 92 apartment units and two retail spaces.

The complex will be known as 1301 University and began preleasing the apartments Thursday, Naylor said. Its Web site, which features floor plans and an interactive map of Dinkytown, also went online this week.

“We’re getting all our ducks in a row,” Naylor said.

When completed, the structure will have a brick-and-stone facade. Naylor said the units will vary from studios to four-bedroom apartments and will feature hardwood floors and 9-foot ceilings.

“I can be very honest,” Naylor said. “We are spending a ton of money up front on this structure because we want to own it long term.”

Local businesses are reacting to the plan with careful optimism. Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said most were supportive of the new project.

“I think most people support the idea of having more students living in and near Dinkytown,” Johnson said. “That’s always good for business.”

The new structure will be two floors taller than the current Marcy-Holmes neighborhood master plan allows. Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association President Brian Biele said that because the association approved the building before it adopted the master plan, it is exempt.

Biele was complimentary of Naylor’s efforts to appease the neighborhood.

“He didn’t come to us and say, ‘Here’s my plan, will you support it?’ ” Biele said. “He came to us and said, ‘Here’s my idea, will you help me develop it?’ “

Two issues that had to be addressed in the original plan, Biele said, were the size of the structure and parking. The neighborhood association wanted to make sure the new building wouldn’t cast shadows across Dinkytown and other buildings wouldn’t be dwarfed.

Naylor said the original plan called for an eight-story tower, but after meeting with the neighborhood, the plan was amended.

The parties also addressed parking.

“They wanted to see more parking,” Naylor said. “Which is only a positive for me – it’s expensive to build, and you can’t recoup the costs, but it’s a long-term amenity.”

The building will have 66 underground parking spaces for residents and 33 street-level spots, a portion of which will be for retail patrons.

Naylor said he has not decided which businesses will occupy the lower level of the new building. Banks, coffee shops and ice cream parlors have shown interest. Biele and Johnson said they hope it will be something that complements the businesses already in Dinkytown.

“We certainly don’t need another coffee shop or any more hair salons,” Johnson said.

Greg Pillsbury, co-owner of Burrito Loco and Red Rocket, said he wasn’t worried about new competition.

“I’m sure there are people in the world who would rather be the only place in town,” Pillsbury said. “But I think more is better – the more businesses in the area, the more people will come. In the end, it’s good for everybody.”