YSU hopes the apartments are open by fall 2002.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- After four years of debate, construction of a student apartment complex at Youngstown State University appears to be coming to fruition.
YSU trustees approved an agreement Monday designating Ambling Companies Inc. of Valdosta, Ga., as the developer of the 400-bed complex on Wick Oval at YSU.
Construction of the $17 million project could begin in September, and YSU officials hope the housing will be open by the fall 2002 semester.
"We're on a really, really fast track on this," said K.J. Satrum, YSU executive director of student services.
Recruiting: YSU officials hope the apartments, first suggested by former YSU President Leslie Cochran in 1997, will attract more students to campus and help stop a decade-long decline in enrollment.
"It has to be a very positive influence on our recruiting," said Bill Knecht, YSU trustee.
YSU's dormitories have been at capacity the past two years, and some study lounges and music practice rooms have been transformed into student rooms to house the overflow.
"I think there's really going to be a great demand," said Mollie McGovern of Boardman, a YSU senior, a student trustee and a resident of Cafaro House dormitory.
Selection of company: Trustees interviewed four development companies and selected Ambling, which has built student apartment complexes at several universities nationwide, including Texas Southern, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware and Florida A & amp;M.
A group of YSU trustees and university officials toured apartments built by Ambling at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V.
"They impressed us with their management expertise, their management team and their management style," Trustee Joseph Nohra said.
Ambling also is constructing a 600-bed apartment complex at Ohio University. YSU will use the same financing model as OU. A nonprofit corporation will be created that will inherit full liability for the project and contract with Ambling to build and manage the apartments. That way, YSU can keep the debt off its financial balance sheet, said Dr. G.L. Mears, YSU executive vice president.
Although Mears said he at first hesitated with such a financing arrangement, YSU President David Sweet said it's "a tried mechanism" that has worked well elsewhere.
"It's been tested, and it works," Nohra said.
Trustee Larry Esterly emphasized that no YSU money or state capital funds will be used to construct the project. Ambling will build the apartments and receive the rent.
YSU had considered several sites for the apartments but settled on Wick Oval because the university owns nearly all of the land in the area.