Student housing boom leads developer to eye Dinkytown for project

Michael Krieger

A Minneapolis developer is eyeing Dinkytown for a large-scale apartment building, adding to the recent ascent of student housing developments in and around the University campus.

Brett Naylor, principal of the Urban Land development company, plans to build an eight-to-10-floor apartment complex on the 1300 block of University Avenue Southeast, which is currently occupied by Pizza Hut.

“This building is more based on location, in my viewpoint a superior location,” Naylor said of his apartment complex.

“You walk out the front door and you’re on campus, you walk out the back door and you’re in Dinkytown, which is obviously a great place to be for a student,” he said.

Naylor, who worked on similar projects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the apartments would offer underground parking, Internet access and possibly retail space in the ground floor.

Rent would cost approximately $500 per bedroom, he said.

“It caters to students, and there would be student amenities in the building, but you would rent a three-bedroom with one lease,” which differs from other large buildings such as the Melrose Apartments that require individual leases per bedroom, he said.

“The building that I’m proposing to put up would be run just like a basic apartment building,” Naylor said.

The newly constructed Melrose on the University’s eastern edge will house 900 tenants when fully completed in December. Half the building’s rooms will be available in August, and approximately 70 percent of those have been booked, said leasing agent Shane Meuwissen. Rent ranges from $582 to $699 per bedroom.

“Each person gets their own bedroom, own bathroom, and share a common area,” Meuwissen said. The Melrose also includes a fitness center, game room, computer center, tanning rooms and multimedia theater.

“You have such a large student population, you can have something for everybody,” Meuwissen said.

Naylor said he is trying to attract students who might shy away from more expensive buildings.

“Hopefully, I’m catering to a market that doesn’t want to pay $675 a person,” he said. “They’d rather share the bathroom and pay $500 a person.”

Due to the recent growth of student housing on and off campus, Mannix Clark, interim director of University housing, said the University does not plan to build more student housing facilities until it determines the success of recent developments.

“We want to wait and see how that affects us before we build more,” Clark said.

Although the University has no authority over off-campus development, Clark said his office monitors the housing situation.

“I think we want to make sure we’re building what the students want,” he said. “Our students want housing, but they want affordable housing.”

But Naylor said the new housing projects around the University might soon reverse a long-standing trend of low vacancy rates, and increased supply could lower rental costs in the area.

“This market is not going to be able to support the rents that are out there right now; there’s just too many new buildings on line, and the competition’s going to be too fierce.

“I think this campus is going to find at least a stabilizing in rents or rents actually dropping,” he said.

Naylor said he hopes construction on the apartment building will begin next summer and anticipates its opening in fall 2004.

“If I were a student here, I would probably want to live in (Dinkytown),” Naylor said, “so that’s why I want to develop in that area.”


Michael Krieger covers University
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