Hallmark to renovate Sunrise Apartments

Max Hayden

Hallmark Campus Communities, a Columbus-based development company, announced in an e-mail to Kent City Council members they are moving forward on development of a more than 600 bedroom apartment complex. The proposed apartments will be located on Rhodes Road where Sunrise Town House Apartments now stands.

Heidi Shaffer, Kent City Council member, said she’s disappointed because it’s not in an area close to downtown.

“It’s an opportunity to support the economic grand plan for the city, but they’re not going to,” she said.

The plan is Kent’s attempt to build up the downtown area of the city and connect it with the university in order to make the entire city economically stable. Shaffer said while she doesn’t agree on the location, she supports the development because all students need safe and affordable housing.

Shaffer, as well as Kent State students, agree that having a new apartment complex close to campus is a good thing.

“I think it’s a great idea to tear down Sunrise,” said Teresa DiVencenzo, a current Sunrise resident. “The location is perfect and the current town homes are in poor condition.”

Sunrise Town House Apartments, located directly behind the Child Development Center, has 192 bedrooms on site and sits within the university-zoning district. It has no restrictions with building projects, one of the main reasons why Hallmark wanted to purchase it, Shaffer said.

“There’s nowhere to build a big apartment complex closer to downtown without having some kind of issue with zoning regulations,” she said. “So, it makes sense that developers are looking East of campus instead of West.”

Outlined in the e-mail, Hallmark said it plans to demolish the existing Sunrise Town Houses and then build three four-story buildings. There will also be adequate parking for all residents.

“The renderings they sent us looks like the new complex will be similar to the Campus Pointe apartments,” said Gary Locke, community development director. “It looks like they will be top-of-the-line apartments with a greater sense of privacy.”

Besides the e-mail, Shaffer and Locke both said they haven’t heard anything else from Hallmark.

“They have yet to meet with us to talk about the traffic, density and sewage problems that might occur once the new project is built,” Locke said. “All we’ve seen is the e-mail from them.”

Locke said he expects Hallmark will meet with them as soon as Hallmark plans to start construction on the complex this summer. According to the e-mail, Locke said Hallmark hopes to have the buildings open with students living there by Fall 2012.

Hallmark Campus Communities could not be reached for comment.

No matter the location, Shaffer said she is happy there will be at least new places for students to live, as it will help the community and the downtown area expand.

“Safe housing is good housing,” Shaffer said. “The new apartment complexes will prevent rental creep and sprawl issues in the community, which is something no one in the city wants.”

Contact Max Hayden at [email protected].