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Campus housing project delayed

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Students at four Columbus colleges will have to wait another school year before moving into campus housing.

The $5 million project that will give the colleges their first-ever student housing complex has been delayed because of the harsh winter, difficulty in cutting through federal red-tape and construction that can’t be completed before fall semester classes start.

More than 100 students from IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College, Harrison College and Purdue College of Technology were expected to live in the two-story building near Columbus Municipal Airport.

Student housing is not a typical development for an airport property, so complying with Federal Aviation Administration regulations was particularly arduous, said Columbus Municipal Airport Director Brian Payne.

And the bitter winter did not help, pushing the groundbreaking back several weeks.

“All it would have taken in April is one bad week of rain storms and our construction schedule is blown,” said Kelly Young, director of student housing operation for Bluffstone LLC, the Iowa-based company chosen to complete the project.

The student housing complex, called The Villas at Columbus, will be a two-story structure with 112 beds in two- and four-bedroom suites. Cost per student will be between $4,750 and $5,500 per academic year.

Bluffstone advertises upscale, student-centric apartments for smaller colleges and universities. The Villas will have 24-hour security surveillance, a 24-hour fitness center, on-site laundry, a large social room and a study area with Wi-Fi access.

The airport is planning to rent 4.25 acres to Bluffstone at $3,000 per acre annually. The lease also includes provisions to limit its residents to college students.

Young said she is confident the $5 million structure would have reached close to capacity by the fall, but Bluffstone did not want to leave those 112 students without a bed.

This way, students who were committed to live at The Villas will have several months to find other housing.

“We’d much rather make this decision now than come July 31 and say, ‘Sorry, the building is not going to be ready,’” she said. “We want to do it right.”

Construction will now begin in fall and should be complete by this time next year, which Young said may be for the best. Now students and families will be able to tour the facility before signing a lease.

Students will return from spring break Monday, and Bluffstone will begin notifying students who had already expressed interest.

Ivy Tech spokesman Randy Proffitt said the college had not yet widely marketed the housing project, so he does not anticipate any effect on student enrollment. Those marketing efforts will be postponed until next year.

“Certainly we’re extremely disappointed,” Young said. “It’s not something we wanted to have happened. We are so committed to your city, to all of the schools, and disappointment is really the only thing we can echo.”

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