Nina Huffer | Col­legian

Off campus college stu­dents can look forward to more upscale housing avail­abil­ities starting next year.

As a part of the College Park housing ini­tiative, Hillsdale College trustee and Michigan builder Thomas Duke has taken it upon himself to build and fund a town­house complex on the corner of West and College streets.

Duke said he wants to provide more modern off-campus housing for stu­dents and friends of the college.

“I was dis­ap­pointed with the housing on the south side of campus,” he said. “Stu­dents deserve better based on the recent trend of upscale housing in college towns across the country. I want to build some­thing walkable and with an upscale expe­rience.”

According to Duke, there will be six town­houses in the new complex. Four will fit eight stu­dents and two will fit five stu­dents. Every bedroom will be fur­nished. Addi­tionally, each bedroom will have private bath­rooms. Apart­ments will also include large kitchens and living areas.

“It will be every­thing a student would want,” Duke said. “You can move in, get to work, get to class quick and have privacy and a really nice envi­ronment.”

Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said although the school is involved in pro­moting the building project, the houses will be con­sidered off campus.

“The college will give no guar­antees about filling any beds, but I suspect there will be great interest because of the location and quality,” he said.   

Péwé added that the town­houses are an exper­iment, and if suc­cessful for the owners and the college, more will be built. This devel­opment could even­tually benefit the city.

“Owners will pay Hillsdale City property taxes based on the value of the indi­vidual units,” Péwé said. “If they own it as their primary res­i­dence, the owner could qualify for the same tax abatement as res­i­dents on

Manning, however I do not think any owners will likely have it as their primary. As an investment property they will not qualify for the abatement and they will pay the .053 rate per $1,000.”

With regard to the housing project on Manning St., Péwé said the College is selling two more lots soon and hoping homes will go up within the next six months. The school is  cur­rently renting 201 Manning St., col­lo­quially known as The Boardwalk, to Weigand Con­struction, which is building the new chapel. After that project is com­plete, the house will be knocked down to make way for the Manning St. project.

For now, Duke said he is excited to provide stu­dents with more com­fortable off campus living arrange­ments.

“It’ll be a whole new expe­rience that you really don’t have on or off campus right now,” he said.

  • Marcy Almay

    LOL HE IS A BOARD MEMBER THAT THE COLLEGE DONATED THE LAND TO! He’s prof­i­teering off his board position, it’s unreal! Pewe noted in a public meeting that HE opened Duke a non profit and that the college used their non profit status to raze the land for the project, and Duke is going to use it for student housing? Why the college won’t just build housing for their stu­dents and not violate their guar­antees for 4 years of on campus housing is just SAD! They have a billion dollars in their endowment, they’re NOT broke and every red cent of that is sup­posed to be used FOR STUDENTS, not for hoarding and giving away for their board of trustee members to prof­iteer off of! Just really sad to see this not addressed as being an alarming means of using local com­munity resources and abuse of power by a trustee to prof­iteer off his position by running a building project instead of demanding the school expand their housing options them­selves! Wonder how many hours Pewe “donated” to working for Duke’s FOR PROFIT project? That equates to embez­zlement from Hillsdale College to do “for profit” work, in my opinion, but worse? I think that land donation ALSO equates to a criminal act if a trustee got it using their influence to later profit from the sale of the condos, but hey, just so they employ our local pros­e­cutor and have him all squared away, the public has no one looking after our interests, so the college offi­cials can pretty much evade any inquires what­soever from law enforcement. What a shame.

    • Marcy Almay

      VERY curious how their variance went, being they got it under a NON EXISTENT non profit name that Jack McClain reserved just after this meeting where CFO Pewe noted he just hadn’t opened the non profit for his board of trustees member yet. Did the variance just get changed into another non profit’s name without a public meeting, vio­lating OMA or some­thing?