OUR VIEW: Plans for housing near KSU stadium raise questions

market for student housing in kent area near saturation point?

Published:

Plans for a proposed stu-

dent housing complex near Dix Stadium have cleared a hurdle with a recommendation by the Franklin Township Zoning Commission that the site be rezoned to accommodate the 120-unit development, which will be known as The Enclave.

It will be up to the Franklin Township trustees to make the final decision on rezoning the 24-acre site, which is located across from the Kent State University sports facility on Summit Road between S.R. 261 and Cline Road. The area is now zoned for low-density residential use; the zoning change would allow high-density residential development.

Tentative plans for The Enclave call for 120 units, or 420 beds, in mostly two-story townhomes. The project is being proposed by Richland Communities, Ltd., which also developed two other large student housing complexes, Campus Pointe Apartments and Pebblebrook Apartments, which are located on S.R. 59 east of Kent, in the township.

We hope that the township trustees give careful consideration to the long-term impact of approving a large student housing complex for the area, which now has limited multi-family housing and retains a rural flavor. Issues that have been raised by nearby residents, such as increased traffic on Summit and Cline roads, drainage and flooding concerns and the proximity of wetlands to the proposed site, are valid concerns that must be addressed.

The Enclave appears to be a scaled-down version of a proposal for housing in the area that was presented in 2012 and ultimately rejected. That plan overlapped into Brimfield Township, which will not be impacted by the current proposal.

The Kent State University area has seen an upsurge in construction of large-scale student housing complexes in recent years. In addition to the two developments on S.R. 59 in Franklin Township, hundreds of units have been constructed at sites in Kent near the campus.

All of these developments are competing for tenants from the same demographic: College students. While enrollment at KSU is healthy at present, what will occur when enrollment dips -- which is likely to occur in the future because of population trends -- and there are fewer college students to fill the beds? What becomes of these facilities if the market for student housing is saturated? In the past, when enrollment at KSU declined, some housing built for short-term occupancy by students has been converted for use by families, with mixed results at best.

While the proposed complex is not located within the Kent city limits, the city will provide fire service and emergency medical service for it. If city officials have concerns about it -- as they had with the previous proposal for the site -- we hope that they are shared with the township before a final decision is rendered. Proceeding with caution would be a wise course of action.

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