The University of Louisville is in the process of adding 1,500 new beds to its student housing offering, and it’s enticing private developers to build them. After Governor Fletcher vetoed funding for renovating older dorms several years ago, a stream of private development proposals came streaming in to the university. These dorms aren’t on campus (some are actually pretty far away) and won’t be run by U of L, but are still considered “university-affiliated residences.” One of the larger student-communities under construction now is named “The Province” located on 43 acres off of Shipp Avenue just west of the Belknap Campus on ground previously occupied by American Standard.
The project will offer 522 one- to four-bedroom apartments, a clubhouse, swimming pool, volleyball court, and sundeck. The project is being developed by the Edwards Companies of Columbus, Ohio and is set to be finished with its first phase in the Fall of 2009.
Demolition of small buildings on the site, including one building with quasi-art-deco features, is complete and site utilities and roads are finished. The apartment units should begin rising soon. The transformation of this abandoned industrial site into a dense neighborhood should help to transform the area around Shipp Avenue and Seventh Street, now a slightly run-down commercial strip with boarded up historic structures and adult businesses. Hopefully a real “University City” will emerge out of this expanded housing.
The design of the complex is pretty suburban in style and is a gated community. This is understandable as the neighborhood has been known for safety issues, but these large-scale developments should try to change that for the better instead of running and hiding behind a fence. A vast expanse of surface parking is also part of this project with a projected one parking spot to one bed ratio. While the parking will be distributed throughout the site, that’s a lot of parking that will ultimately diminish the urban nature of the development. Urban density will ultimately transform the area better than suburban apartment complexes.
The Province is also proving groundbreaking for its marketing tactics. For example, its web site (not fully launched, yet) is setting new standards for residential projects in Louisville. It takes an out-of-towner to realize that sex sells, a concept that’s been well over-used in larger markets like New York. The development is also playing up its luxury side to appeal to students, showing the strength of these privately held projects: competition will ideally drive the quality and amenities higher. University housing acts as a kind of monopoly, but when opened up, can potentially bring a better result.
Overall, we’re glad to see these units being built and hope to see a fully realized community growing in the next ten or so years that might see the development of more urban properties with mixed-uses that will draw a more diverse constituency than just college students. Â A well rounded community with neighborhood essentials like laundromats, groceries, restaurants, and bars makes the college experience living near campus far richer.