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Student housing development gets OK in Oakwood
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The Oakwood City Council voted Monday, Feb. 11, to approve a large private housing development for college students. - photo by Jeff Gill

A private developer’s plans for a 488-bedroom complex — or 122 four-bedroom “pods” spread over four five-story buildings — was approved Monday, Feb. 11, by the Oakwood City Council.

“This is similar to dorm-style living that you would have on traditional college campuses but in the form of privatized student housing,” Eric Johansen, spokesman for the project, told the council.

“We believe this provides another student housing option. It could be a great centerpiece for the rest of the growth … in this area.”

Suwanee-based GAH Holding LLC’s proposal involves annexation and rezoning of 6.82 acres off Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 and Frontage Road. Annexation will come up for final OK at a later meeting.

The project calls for each of the four-unit pods to have a living room, kitchenette, bathrooms in each individually locked bedroom and a laundry area.

Each building could feature study areas, coffee bars, gyms and plazas.

“We’ve even talked about possibly a rooftop plaza on one or two of the buildings to take advantage of the grounds that we’re proposing and also overlooking the city and the views back over (Interstate) 985 and the surrounding area,” Johansen told the Oakwood Planning Commission in January.

Complex amenities include a swimming pool, green spaces for outdoors games and connection to Hall County’s walking trail that runs alongside Ga. 13 to Chicopee Village.

“It’s very important to have this feel like resort-style living for these kids,” Johansen has said. “Yes, we want them to go to college, but we also want them to have fun while they’re on the site.”

Rents could run from $700 to $750 monthly per bedroom.

Tread Syfan, lawyer for the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority, owner of adjacent property containing the Georgia Department of Labor, said he was concerned about the project’s traffic and parking impacts.

“And the density seems a little high,” he told City Council. “Your own ordinance (calls for) 10 units per acre and this is more like 18 units per acre.”

The developer has said if all goes well, construction could start later this year.

More housing for students emerged last year as a popular topic among developers proposing housing developments in Oakwood.

Construction is underway on University Commons, a complex comprising 18 rental cottages at 2988 Frontage Road, near the Thurmon Tanner Parkway entrance to UNG and near the Hayes Chrysler dealership off Frontage.

The three-bedroom cottages are within walking distance of the campus. They will feature rents of $1,650-$1,800 per month, or potentially up to $600 per roommate, development officials have said.