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Construction on student housing to begin soon

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A proposed student housing apartment in the Columbus AirPark will begin construction next month with a new name and project manager.

The $5 million two-story apartment building will be renamed The Annex of Columbus LLC. It was initially proposed as The Villas of Columbus LLC.

On Tuesday, the Columbus Board of Aviation Commissioners approved the change for the project on the southwest corner of Ray Boll Boulevard and Poshard Drive, in the Columbus AirPark.

Iowa-based Bluffstone LLC had planned to lease the apartments to more than 100 students from nearby IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College, Harrison College and Purdue College of Technology.

Bluffstone was unable to secure financing for the project, however, and pushed the project back a year.

The Annex of Columbus project will be managed by Realtor Kyle Bach, chief executive officer and president of Indianapolis-based Annex Student Living LLC.

Bach also is the president and chief executive officer of Annex’s sister company, Mecca Companies. Annex recently built student housing in Kokomo, South Bend and Vincennes.

Bach has been involved with the AirPark student housing project from the beginning when the airport board started looking into offering student housing in March 2013, airport director Brian Payne said.

“He actually scouted this out for Bluffstone in the beginning. He had been down here numerous times,” Payne said. “I met him when the (request for proposal) was out last year.”

The Villas and the Annex were partners in developing the project and will remain partners on a daily basis as the project moves forward, Bach said.

Changing the ownership and name of the student housing complex is an effort to re-brand the image of the development, Bach said.

After the delays caused by weather and a lack of financing, Bluffstone failed to pay rent beginning this year for the lot where the apartments were to be built.

In May, Bluffstone paid the airport about $7,327, which included six months rent and 15 percent interest in late fees, according to the terms of the company’s lease.

Even though it’s the same project, Annex wants the Columbus higher education community to recognize it’s a new name and a new brand, Bach said.

Part of an agreement for financing the project requires that the title on all of the legal documents associated with the project be the Annex of Columbus, Bach said.

Bach said it isn’t unusual for a company to have difficulty financing a new idea such as student housing in an AirPark.

“It’s not atypical in real estate development projects, especially for those you’re pioneering (like) the first student housing community at a campus like IUPUC and a higher education core,” he said. “I’ve been involved with it before. To get lenders to understand a pioneering effort, it’s no different than other pioneering efforts from a redevelopment standpoint. It’s a challenging process.”

Bluffstone’s workload has ramped up with a new project in Wisconsin, making the project in Columbus harder to do, Payne said. He added that the winter delay in construction probably had a role in the company’s decision to hand the project off to Bach’s group.

Bach proposed exchanging management of the project to Annex about two weeks ago.

The apartment design, specifications, amenities, costs and timeline for construction will all remain the same as proposed by Bluffstone, Payne said.

“I think it definitely is more stable. I think you’re going to see activity very soon,” Payne said. “The fact that this will not be their first venture in Indiana and will be their fourth facility in the state, we’re happy about that.”

Bach said construction on the apartment complex will begin the second week of September.

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