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North Carolina developer proposes 456-bedroom student housing complex in Johnson City

Nathan Baker • Sep 9, 2015 at 6:18 PM

The prospective builder of a 456-bedroom student housing complex near East Tennessee State University said Johnson City’s rental housing market is still ripe for new development.

On Tuesday, the Johnson City Planning Commission unanimously approved a request from Fayetteville, North Carolina, developer H&H Multi, LLC, to rezone three properties at the intersection of McKinley Road and West Walnut Street from Heavy Industrial (I-2) to High Density Residential (R-6), moving the rezoning ordinance to the full City Commission.

H&H intends to build two four-story apartment buildings on the 8 acres, which are partially wooded, partially vacant land and have two standing commercial buildings. Brush Creek and Cherokee Creek run through the land, as well, and will be retained, said company COO David Vannoy Wednesday.

“The streams will be left in their natural states, with pedestrian foot bridges crossing them from the parking areas,” he said. “They’re going to become part of the amenities on site.”

To alleviate flooding concerns, both on the property and downstream, H&H has begun working with the Johnson City Public Works department to design a retention pond on adjacent city-owned property.

With 96 four-bedroom apartments and 36 two-bedroom apartments with rents from the low $500 range to the low $600 range, each unit will include a common living room, a common kitchen, washer and dryer hookups and a bathroom for each bedroom.

Vannoy said the company projects high occupancy rates for the $22 million development, if built.

“We’ve done a survey of the market, and we believe another properly planned and well located and properly executed student housing project will be successful in Johnson City,” he said. “Our site is located within within a half-mile of the western edge of campus. Projects within a mile of university campuses tend to be successful, provided other indicators are present.”

H&H’s concept site plan includes a parking space for each bedroom in the complex, a swimming pool, a half basketball court and a volleyball court. The property, like H&H’s other multi-family complexes, would be managed by a third-party management company.

With one hurdle cleared, the rezoning request will be heard by the full City Commission next month, likely at its Oct. 1 meeting. On Oct. 15, provided the proposal is approved on the first reading, the second reading will also include a public hearing.

Assuming the zoning change is approved, Vannoy said the architectural design process will begin in November and site work can begin the following June or July, with construction taking 14 months.

If the complex is built, it would add 456 bedrooms to the existing 550 at Monarch 815 and 600 at University Edge.

Two years ago, Coal Yard Restoration LLC, the developer of a property near the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway, changed its intentions from residential to retail, citing a boom in available rental units nearby. This year, after a drawn out legal battle over the zoning and variance process waged by residents of a nearby residential neighborhood, Evolve Development abandoned its multi-family housing plans for the Model Mill site, with local company representative Tom McKee saying market conditions precipitated the change.

H&H, which includes sister companies H&H Multi and H&H Homes, builds single-family and multi-family housing throughout the Southeast.

Email Nathan Baker at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jcpressbaker or on Facebook at facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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