Hillside Commons has leased about 50 percent of its student apartment space, officials said, and construction of the 331-bed complex is on schedule for occupancy by Aug. 15.
Also, the Oneonta Common Council this week approved the purchase of two buses and a service agreement to provide students with rides from the 150 Blodgett Drive apartment building to the SUNY Oneonta campus and downtown.
Newman Development Group, a private developer, has reported that the foundation work for Hillside Commons is “essentially completed,” Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said in a Feb. 3 memo to the Common Council and city officials.
Modular units will be delivered to the project site beginning Feb. 17, and the police department is working with the developer on details about deliveries, which will be between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays and may impede traffic on Lettis Highway, Maple Street East Street, Bugbee Road and Blodgett Drive.
Jeffrey Smetana, a vice president with Newman Development, will report on the four-story, $23 million project at the Common Council meeting of Feb. 18, Miller said.
Hillside Commons on Blodgett Drive is located not far from Hunt College Union on campus and nearby athletic fields. Last year, as the city reviewed environmental impact documents and prepared a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement, some local landlords and residents objected to the project based on economic, traffic and other concerns.
The fall semester at the State University College at Oneonta starts Aug. 25. Generally, students are required to live on-campus their freshman and sophomore years. SUNY Oneonta enrolls about 6,000 students, and last year, officials said about 3,350 students live on campus.
Amanda Masterjohn, leasing and marketing manager for Hillside Commons, said 153 of 331 beds had been leased as of Wednesday. The complex has 117 units, she said, and the average rent is $765 monthly with leases running from August to the end of July.
Hillside Commons has a leasing office at 128 Main St. in the Clinton Plaza downtown. The complex is managed by Campus Apartments, a company in Philadelphia that manages more than 32,000 beds in facilities in 24 states serving students at more than 70 colleges and universities.
At Hillside Commons, one- and two-bedroom apartments have been “sold out,” as has one of the three three-bedroom options, according to its website. The apartments have kitchens, washers and dryers, and each bedroom has a bathroom, plus the complex amenities include a cafe and lounge, a multimedia room and a fitness center.
Hillside Commons also will provide bus service to the SUNY Oneonta campus and on Thursday through Saturday nights to downtown Oneonta.
Paul Patterson, director of transportation for the city, said the bus purchases and service expenses will be at no cost to the city. In the first year of a three-year agreement, Hillside Commons will pay about $100,000, which includes $40,000 for the bus purchases, Patterson said, and the payment will be about $60,000 in each of the other two years.
“Hillside Commons is paying all the costs — this is a great thing,” Patterson, of Oneonta Public Transit, said. “It’s really a win, win, win.”
The city has arranged to purchase the buses, at a cost of up to $200,000 each, through an Otsego County bidding contract, Patterson said, and the two buses are expected to be delivered in August.
The buses will be equipped to meet the route’s higher terrain up Blodgett Drive, Patterson said, and the service was arranged in part to cut down on vehicular traffic by students. Buses will run every 20 minutes, he said.
The existing and additional bus service is public, Patterson said, and some inquiries have been made by residents of the nearby Campus Heights Apartments about taking the bus. Students will have cards to swipe to pay fares, he said, and the basic rate for others is $1, or 75 cents for senior citizens.
A state grant is paying for 90 percent of the buses purchase price, Patterson said, and the $40,000 paid by Hillside Commons will pay the city’s share of the purchase.
Patterson said Oneonta Public Transit will hire four part-time drivers to meet the additional demand for service.
Separately, the SUNY Oneonta Student Association has a $222,500 contract with the city for bus service for the 2013-14 year, Patterson said.