Columbia Construction Boom

For more than two years now, the hammers have been swinging overtime as thousands of housing units spring up all over the city. More of this new construction is designed to house college students in multi-family units; since 2011 through the first four months of this year, the city of Columbia has issued building permits for 1,178 apartment units in high-density structures, compared to permits for 966 single-family detached dwellings over the same period.

The flurry of activity has given Columbia’s building inspectors all they can handle.

“While the sheer amount of new complexes has increased our workload, the inspection end is where the greatest effect has been,” says Shane Creech, the city’s building and site development manager. “For the most part, we have been able to maintain our inspection turnaround time, but there has been a decrease in our ability to spend time with a contractor and fully explain an inspection.”

The apartment frenzy is a stark reversal of the three years preceding this latest building boom. In the depths of the local construction slowdown, the city issued permits for just 124 high-density apartment units from 2008 to 2010 while 876 single-family homes got the OK.

Shifting demand in Columbia’s demographics has transformed Columbia’s housing market as it rearranges the local landscape. Although U.S. Census figures show that Columbia’s residential patterns split 50-50 between owner-occupied and rental tenants, that picture is starting to change. The student population of the University of Missouri has skyrocketed in the past two decades — a record 32,561 enrolled for fall 2012, an increase of more than 9,000 students since the turn of the 21st century a dozen years ago.

All of those extra students have to live somewhere, and they won’t all find housing on campus. Space in MU residence halls has shrunk in recent years — down to about 6,300 spaces currently plus a few hundred additional beds the university contracts for in nearby Campus View Apartments off South Providence Road. The rest make up a profitable rental market that has both local and out-of-town developers scrambling to keep up with demand.

That demand is for more than a place to eat, sleep and study. Today’s students are looking for a college experience that includes luxury living spaces with over-the-top amenities more commonly found in a Club Med or other chic resort. Here’s a look at some of the larger student housing developments going in downtown and elsewhere.

Local developers Nathan and Jon Odle have attracted plenty of attention with their two high-density Brookside complexes in downtown Columbia. A third Brookside development is on the city’s south side. The three complexes share the same name and common amenities, but each offers a different ambience to tenants.

Brookside On College: Despite a fire that damaged much of the structure shortly before opening, the first Brookside On College complex at 1221 E. Walnut St. was ready for half its renters in August 2012; the rest moved in by October. A second apartment structure at 1224 E. Walnut St. will open in August 2013. The two buildings will house about 500 residents, and are leasing at what Nathan Odle describes as “a healthy rate.” A third Brookside On College building will open in 2014.

The spacious, furnished apartments offer all-inclusive leases that cover utilities, cable TV, appliances, washer-dryers, Wi-Fi, a fitness center, student union and other niceties. An adjacent, private parking garage at Walnut and Short streets will open sometime this summer, offering more than 400 spaces and featuring a rooftop pool, cardio studio and bar & grill. The two- and four-bedroom apartments rent by the bed for $570 to $780 a month. Rents also include semester passes on the city’s FastCAT bus line; Brookside leases additional parking spaces from the city and offers those as another option for residents. As summer began, four of the seven unit styles in the two buildings were sold out, with another style nearly full.

Brookside Downtown: Five more Brookside apartment complexes are on the market within blocks of the University of Missouri. Buildings at 120, 220 and 260 S. 10th St. opened in 2012; those at 1102 and 1118 Locust St. will open in August.

About 550 residents will call these buildings home. The furnished apartments feature similar amenities of utilities, cable TV, appliances, washer-dryers and Wi-Fi. There is a rooftop pool and bar & grill on 10th Street. Retail businesses occupy the buildings’ ground-floor levels. By-the-bed rental rates for the two- and four-bedroom units run $650 to $1,000; city parking leases are available. There are 14 styles of apartments to choose from in the five downtown buildings, but by late spring five styles had sold out and seven more styles were close to full.

Brookside Townhomes: Built five years ago, the townhomes development at 400 W. Old Plank Road in south Columbia features small groupings of furnished duplexes and rowhouse-style dwellings for 550 residents. Inclusive rates encompass utilities, cable TV, appliances, washer-dryers and Wi-Fi. Pets are permitted. Featured amenities include two pools, a clubhouse, a fitness center and plentiful parking; a shuttle bus runs to the university campus. All Brookside residents may use the amenities at any other Brookside property.

By-the-bed leases for the two- and four-bedroom units range from $400 to $520 a month; by June 1, only three units remained available.

The Odles’ Trittenbach Development has yet another housing complex in the works, on Discovery Parkway at U.S. 63. Early plans for the 200-acre property near Tolton High School and Perry Philips Park call for mixed-use development; residential construction would include space for approximately 1,200 residents in a student complex in addition to a separate  apartment project aimed at professionals that would house “up to a couple of thousand,” Odle says. Rents in the student complex will be set at $399 per bed, Odle says, “a price we feel is fair.”
The Lofts at 308 Ninth
308 S. Ninth St.

The Lofts is a 64-unit apartment building across the street from the University of Missouri that will open on Aug. 15. The all-inclusive lease covers utilities, cable TV, Internet, appliances, washer-dryers and private baths with Jacuzzi tubs. Upscale touches include 50-inch flat-screen TVs, Brazilian hardwood floors, granite countertops and private balconies.

Two-bedroom units rent for $699 to $999 per bedroom, and one-bedroom units go for $1,299. Capacity is 120 residents, for which the management reports a robust leasing rate. Some parking is available at nearby University of Missouri lots and MU’s Hitt Street garage.

The Lofts on Ninth was developed by THM Investments, a local group headed by Certified Realty owner Travis McGee.
The Domain
3100 E. Stadium Blvd.

Set to open in August, The Domain is one of two brand-new housing complexes for students in Columbia. The 228-unit development in Crosscreek Center, at U.S. 63 and Stadium Boulevard, is part of a mixed-use commercial area that languished for four years after a contentious rezoning battle. Construction began on the site in 2012.

The 654 residents may choose among several floor plans for one- and two-bedroom furnished apartments, or four-bedroom furnished flats and townhomes. All-inclusive rent covers utilities, appliances, cable, flat-screen HDTVs, Wi-Fi and washer-dryers. The Domain’s extensive list of luxury amenities includes a 100,000-gallon pool, clubhouse, fitness facility, tanning beds, game room, multiuse theater, gaming center, full-swing golf simulator, volleyball courts, outdoor kitchen, business center and conference rooms, Internet café and valet trash service. Parking is available, as is a private shuttle bus with a direct, nonstop route to the University of Missouri campus a mile away. The Domain filled all its spaces in January and maintains a waiting list.

A Break Time Neighborhood Market and FFO furniture store have opened in the surrounding Crosscreek area. Future development includes a Taco Bell, Saxbys Coffee and a hotel, reportedly a Holiday Inn Express and Suites. The Domain is owned and operated by Asset Campus Housing of Houston, which manages more than 100 other similar properties nationwide.
Aspen Heights
2701 E. Nifong Blvd.
A year ago, the 40-acre parcel of land at Nifong Boulevard and Ponderosa Street was in its final days as Regency Mobile Home Park. In August, the razed and reconstructed property will reopen as Aspen Heights, Columbia’s newest upscale student housing development.

The 318 units in the complex are styled as individual homes with front porches (porch swing included). Available floor plans include two- and three-bedroom cottages, four- and five-bedroom homes, and four- and five-unit rowhouses. The furnished homes feature private baths, appliances, washer-dryers and on-street parking in a gated community with individual security systems. Aspen Heights boasts “resort-style” amenities for its 972 residents, such as a California-style pool and spa, clubhouse, movie theater, beach volleyball court, jogging trail, full basketball court, and outdoor patio and deck. A private shuttle runs to the MU campus.

Aspen Heights is a Texas-based development company with corporate headquarters in Austin. The company owns and operates properties in nine states; proceeds from leasing revenues help fund its charitable arm, Aspen Heights in Africa, which provides housing and education opportunities for families in Africa.
The Grove
3200 Rock Quarry Road

This 35-acre development on Columbia’s south side was the first in the new wave of luxury student housing. Built in a matter of months in 2011, the nine-building apartment complex suffered from glitches in the opening weeks, but has remained at nearly full occupancy in the two years it has been open.

The Grove offers individual leases by the bed to its 624 residents with a choice of two-, three- or four-bedroom floor plans. The furnished apartments include such all-inclusive amenities as private bath, utilities, high-speed Internet, cable TV, washer-dryers, pool, volleyball and basketball courts and fire pit. A clubhouse features a game room, workout room, tanning beds, coffee bar and a library. Free parking and a shuttle bus to the university campus are also included in the rent.

The Grove is owned and operated by Campus Crest, a development company based in Charlotte, N.C., with 44 student housing developments across the country.
The Den
Grindstone Parkway

The student-housing boom continues on Columbia’s south side as construction begins on The Den, a 158-unit development on Grindstone Parkway across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter. A mix of two- and four-bedroom apartments will house 552 residents; rent includes full furnishings, private baths, appliances, washer-dryers, big-screen flat-panel TVs and Internet access.

Planned amenities on the 10-acre site include a central clubhouse, resort-style pool with lounge decks, volleyball courts, bocce ball, an outdoor kitchen, fire pits, cyber café, fitness center, tanning beds, theater lounge, game room, bike/scooter storage and on-site parking. The Den is set to open in August 2014.

O’Fallon-based Optimus LLC is developing The Den in partnership with Gilbane Development of Rhode Island and Dallas architectural firm Humphreys & Partners Architects.