In 2015, Oglethorpe University will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Peachtree Road campus. From the perspective of the front gates, the historic campus is seemingly unchanged, regardless of the development within. However, through a new partnership, Oglethorpe will soon expand its physical presence and public face to Atlanta’s most famous street with the addition of a new residential complex.
Over recent years, Oglethorpe has been experiencing significant growth and, as part of its current strategic plan, intends to further increase its current student population of 1100 to 1500 by 2020. To accommodate that expansion, Oglethorpe has partnered with Atlanta-based real estate development company Gables Residential to build a high-end, mixed-use residential complex that will combine apartment living with state-of-the-art classrooms, secure parking, and desirable recreational amenities. The Gables complex will provide Oglethorpe with the room to grow its residential population without necessitating a significant financial investment.
“Oglethorpe is near capacity in its residence halls and needs additional space to accommodate our growth,” said President Larry Schall. “Our partnership with Gables Residential will allow us to fulfill that need for student housing while shifting the financial risk away from the university.”
Through a long-term land lease agreement reached in early 2014, Gables Residential will lease approximately seven acres of land from Oglethorpe, and will construct, operate, and maintain the new complex. The Gables will be located on the corner of Peachtree Road and Hermance Drive, on property that will continue to be owned by Oglethorpe. Designed by Atlanta-based architects Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, the Gables will complement the signature Gothic Revival architecture of Oglethorpe’s historic campus. As Oglethorpe’s enrollment continues to grow, the goal is to ensure that the university is able to still offer a rich residential experience to all students. Evidence suggests that students who live on campus perform better academically and are more likely to persist to graduation.
“Studies have found that residential facilities have a profound, positive relationship to the recruitment and retention of students,” said Dean of Students and Vice President for Campus Life Michelle Hall. “National surveys have shown that students rank residential facilities as the most important destination to see on a campus visit and have the second highest impact, behind facilities in their academic major, on decisions to enroll.”
It stands to reason that Oglethorpe’s ongoing growth will necessitate additional classroom space as well. As part of the lease agreement, the residential complex also will include 6,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classroom space, to be used exclusively by Oglethorpe.
While the primary purpose of the new complex is to provide additional housing for Oglethorpe’s growing student population, its surplus rental units will be available to the general public. The Gables will be comprised of two 4-story residential buildings with approximately 370 rental units, consisting of primarily 1 and 2-bedroom units (90%), plus studios (6%) and 3-bedroom units (4%). Two 3.5-level parking structures, with a total of 520 parking spaces, will be located behind and adjacent to the residential buildings. Neither will be visible from Peachtree Road or Hermance Drive. As part of the lease agreement, the Oglethorpe community will have access to 100 parking spaces, Monday through Friday, during business hours.
In addition to classroom space and parking, the Gables and the university will share other amenities, including Gables’ fitness facility and access to OU’s track and field facilities in off hours, plus discounted and/or priority access to the Oglethorpe’s museum, theatre, and music events. A community park and green space at the corner of Peachtree Road and Hermance Drive will provide a serene setting for the complex. New pedestrian pathways will offer secured, gated access between the Gables development and Oglethorpe’s main campus.
Groundbreaking is estimated for summer 2014. One of the two buildings and adjacent parking structure are projected to open in August 2015. The remaining building and parking structure are estimated to open shortly thereafter....