Another new student housing development may be coming to downtown Akron.
The Akron Planning Commission approved plans Friday for a $20 million, four-story student housing development on the south side of East Exchange Street, east of South Broadway and west of the CSX railroad tracks.
The proposal will go before Akron City Council in early to mid-February.
Exchange Housing LLC has an option to buy the 3.4-acre property from the Akron Beacon Journal, whose main building is located across from the parcel. The property currently is home to the Erie Warehouse, an aging Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad facility the newspaper uses to store giant rolls of paper.
The project would be the third new student housing development built within a few blocks of each other downtown. One development, 22 Exchange, is open; the second, 401 Lofts, is scheduled to debut in August.
City leaders think there’s room — and enough demand — for a third development.
“It brings more people downtown,” said Mike Antenucci, Akron’s zoning manager. “We have 22 Exchange and 401 Lofts, and they have been well-received. It should be good for the city and the university.”
The development would feature a mix of one- to four-bedroom apartments, for a total of 191 units and 624 beds. Each apartment would have a bath for each bedroom, a kitchen, common room and laundry. The outside might include a swimming pool and grill area, bicycle racks and stadium seating areas, according to Planning Commission documents.
Plans also call for a separate five-story, 312-space parking deck connected to the apartment building by a third-floor covered walkway. The deck would be south of the building along South Broadway.
NRP Group, a developer with offices in Ohio and six other states, isn’t a stranger to Akron. It has collaborated on projects with East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp., Antennuci said.
NRP, which created Exchange LLC for the proposed Akron project, says on its website it has developed more than 17,000 single- and multi-family homes and apartments in the past 16 years. A map on the website shows the company was behind a development in Alliance and manages one each in Kent and Canton.
Aaron Pechota, NRP’s vice president of development, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Beacon Journal Publisher Andrea Mathewson said NRP approached the newspaper about the project. She called the Erie Warehouse property an “under-utilized asset” and said the newspaper, with some improvements, will be able to unload paper and store it in its existing building. Because the sale is still pending, she declined to discuss terms.
Beacon Journal employees park in front of and behind the warehouse. Mathewson said the newspaper has enough parking in other nearby locations should a sale be completed.