The new townhomes on College and West street only have four residents, but according to Hillsdale College Park Townhomes manager Trevor Duke, ’08, they are already securing deposits for next year.
Construction on College Park Townhouses was completed in the middle of the summer and is now currently housing four residents. The duplex-style townhomes offer 1-unit, 5-unit and 8-unit options, and a wide range of amenities, from air-conditioning to dishwashers, and private bathrooms for each bedroom.
“We really did try to go heavy on the amenities, we’re paying a pretty penny to be able to say we have the fastest internet on campus,” Duke said.
But because construction was completed in midsummer, the homes have seen smaller numbers than they would have liked.
“We finished at exactly the wrong time. In the middle of summer, things were starting to look pretty, the drywall was up, the paint was on, but by then everyone had already made their arrangements for this semester,” Duke said.
The homes, which Duke said have been in the works for about five years, are geared towards students, with single-unit options ideal for trustees and visiting professors. The land is college-owned, but the homes are completely separate from the college.
“This is not college housing,” and is meant to be a higher-end living alternative, he said.
“I was a student at Hillsdale from 2004 – 2008,” Duke said, “and we saw that there was not a lot of great student housing … There is a trend across the country with really high-end amenities-focused places, and there’s no reason Hillsdale shouldn’t have an offering like that.”
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé confirmed this.
“At one point in time there were quite a few homes that needed a lot of upkeep and care. And one thought was, if you could do something that would enhance the approach to the campus and benefit the operations of the campus, maybe it would be student housing, or providing housing for people to be near the college at certain times during the year, than that would be a good thing to look into,” Péwé said.
He explained that in order to get the best return on investment, the College waited for a third party to conduct the experiment.
“One of the trustees was willing to take that risk, and build the first six units,” he said.
Senior Sabrina Barlow, who lives in the townhomes, pointed to personal freedom as one of the key reasons she chose a townhome over a dormitory.
“I think it’s important at Hillsdale College, we’re supposed to be kind of self-governing, and as a senior it was important for me definitely to go out and make sure that I could be self-governing and capable … I’m generally a fairly independent person, so to have my own space to relax and decompress after classes is really nice,” she said.
She added that she likes having greater facility to entertain her friends now.
“You do your own thing, and as long as you’re not making a bunch of noise and being obnoxious, you’re on your own,” she said.
Despite some scepticism from students over the price of the townhomes, Péwé pointed out that the project greatly benefits the local economy.
“Depending on what they appraise at, and they were expensive for the trustee to build … it does provide a lot more taxable value than the row of houses that were there before,” he said. “I think it remains to be seen how they’re going to work financially for the students, but after a semester we’ll know about that.”
Duke did say that plans are in the works to add five more townhome units down the row on West street, but they are waiting to see how College Park does before proceeding.
“This is our first time testing the waters with the student housing demand here, and this is a very different product,” he said. “We didn’t expect it to be fully occupied on day one, we could have timed the construction a little better, and we are eager to have students in here, but we’re not desperate. We’re not going to do a fire sale, or anything like that.”