Apartments, businesses could help Miami’s Hamilton campus feel ‘more like a traditional university’

This was an vision of what an apartment complex could look like near Miami University Hamilton and Vora Technology Park. New designs are being created. PROVIDED
This was an vision of what an apartment complex could look like near Miami University Hamilton and Vora Technology Park. New designs are being created. PROVIDED

A development group is working with Miami University’s Hamilton campus to build apartments and businesses next to the campus that will feel like a part of campus, even though they will be privately owned.

The project will allow Miami’s Hamilton campus to tell prospective students they can basically live at the school.

ARK Capital Partners, based in Allentown, Pa., said the development will start with 100 apartments and businesses that can serve the campus’ students, as well as young professionals who work nearby, such as at Vora Technology Park a few blocks north.

“It’s going to feel like it’s on campus, but we’re actually directly adjacent to campus,” said Tom Drauschak, representing the project. “To us, on our side, we’re feeling like it’s an extension of their campus.”

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The 100 apartments in the first phase will be a mix of one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units, mainly for student housing.

“Think about it. We’re actually creating the first student housing at this campus,” Drauschak added. “It’s not on campus, but we want it to feel that way.”

It’s one of two projects adding new housing for Miami students. The other is in Hamilton’s downtown, in the upper floors of the former Ohio Casualty complex, where Los Angeles-based IRG (Industrial Realty Group) is building apartments for international students, most of them Chinese, in an English-immersion program on the Hamilton campus.

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Clearing of ARK’s site for the $15 million first phase should begin in the next two weeks, but architects still are working on plans for that first phase. The developers hope to start construction before this fall, Drauschak said.

An opening of the first phase by start of school in 2020 “would be the most optimistic of deadlines,” he said. “Whether we get there or not, we’ve yet to make that decision.”

University officials, contacted on Thursday about the project, did not offer an official to comment this week.

Miami has been expanding its number of four-year degrees on its regional campuses, and at the start of this past school year offered 18 four-year degrees, with a promise to develop more in high need industries such as health care, technology and sciences.

With Miami’s Hamilton campus now offering more four-year degrees, “they’re looking more like a traditional university,” said city Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson. “You’re going to find that people are going to start living their lives in that way as well.”

Drauschak, meanwhile, said: “The campus is going through an interesting growth of change that to me feels like it fits in wonderfully with this first student-housing opportunity showing up at the university.”

Drauschak called that campus evolution “really exciting news for Hamilton.”

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The ARK group is working with Miami on an affiliation agreement that would find ways the project could work with the university. The company wants Miami to help guide the project. For instance, ARK would allow the school to name the streets and buildings, and tell developers what services it would like to see offered.

Perhaps Miami would keep the gymnasium and cafeteria on campus open later so students now living nearby around the clock could use it more, he said.

“As Phase 2 begins, I think we’ll be looking to lean more toward the possibility of bringing in more of what we would just call young professionals,” Drauschak said. “And then as the project grows from there, we can look at all sorts of housing. We could add a component even of senior housing at some point.”

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