Emory University planning graduate housing project near Druid Hills High SchoolDavid Payne, associate vice president for planning and engagement at Emory University, hosted a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, June 23, to give an overview of the university's graduate housing project. Photo is a screenshot of the meeting.
Atlanta, GA — Emory University is planning to build graduate and professional student housing at the corner of Haygood Drive Northeast and North Decatur Road. The first phase of the project will include about 500 beds and will provide a space that is specifically dedicated to graduate students.
Emory has one affiliated project for graduate housing on Briarcliff Road, near the post office, that has about 400 beds but the university has about 7,000 graduate students, said David Payne, associate vice president for planning and engagement at Emory University.
“So we’re at a deficiency and in fact we’re behind our peers as far as providing graduate and professional housing. So we’re at a competitive disadvantage, we see, by not having more of this housing on campus,” Payne said. “This project is going to allow us to make up some ground in that regard.”
Payne hosted a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, June 23, to give an overview of the project.
The university did outreach for the project and sent out a survey and had a 29% response rate to the survey. They found that graduate students want to live in proximity to campus, ideally within walking distance.
The site for the project is bound by Haygood Drive Northeast, North Decatur Road and Ridgewood Drive. The university is not planning to add any curb cuts or entrances on Haygood Drive Northeast or North Decatur Road.
The site is about 6.5 acres and is within walking distance to all the academic graduate programs. The site is also located on one of the university’s main shuttle bus routes, Payne said.
“The project will be developed in two phases, each with approximately 500 beds. That’s 500 beds, not 500 units,” Payne said. “There will be a mix of two-bedroom, one-bedroom, studio units.”
There will be about 1,000 beds total and a significant number of the units will be two bedrooms, Payne told Decaturish.
The university hasn’t determined how many units will be in each building yet. Phase one residential building will be five stories tall and the construction will also include a structured parking deck with about 275 spaces. The parking structure will be located on Ridgewood Drive as to not be near the residential Druid Hills community.
The phase two residential building will be seven stories and will wrap around three sides of the parking deck, so the structure will only be visible from Ridgewood Drive.
“The site and the design are being done with the keen consideration for the fact that this property borders the Druid Hills community,” Payne said.
He added that the ideal student who would live in this graduate housing is someone who does not have a car or students who have a car but don’t need access to it often. Those students could park in other parking decks across campus, pay the standard parking fee, and walk or ride the shuttle bus to their car.
“The third group of people [to live in the housing] would be students who do have a car and they feel like they need to have it with them where they live,” Payne said. “We will have some limited structured parking on site and the students who want to park there would pay a premium to do so. The parking would be unbundled from the lease, which means that they would pay a separate fee depending on where they park, if they even need to park.”
The survey also found that there are few areas on the Emory campus that are dedicated to graduate students. So the project includes a space that Payne called the graduate commons. It will feature individual and group study spaces, a coffee shop and potentially an area with cardio workout equipment.
The building is not meant to be a large retail complex, so it will likely only feature the one coffee shop, which will also be open to the public.
Students voiced that they wanted single occupancy, private units with their own bathrooms. The university plans to additionally make the units competitive in pricing as many students live on stipends or loans.
“These units will be probably smaller than you’ll find in a lot of other commercial multifamily housing projects,” Payne said. “That is also because in our surveying and our market analysis, we learned that graduate students very much want to save money, as I’ve mentioned, and they’re willing to go smaller on their units, since they’re really not there very often, in order to save money.”
About two years ago, Emory worked with the Path Foundation to add a multi-use trail that cuts through the graduate housing site.
“We will remove the current multi-use trail through the site, but we will maintain the connectivity of the network by adding a 10-foot multi-use trail along North Decatur Road and along Haygood Drive,” Payne said.
Another goal of the project is to create a sense of arrival to the university for those coming from Clairmont Road. As visitors go down North Decatur Road toward the Emory campus there is currently nothing that indicates that they are at Emory at the intersection of North Decatur Road and Haygood Drive Northeast.
“Part of this project, particularly in the first phase, will include on the corner some kind of signature sign that will be a welcoming beacon to come to Emory and a sense of arrival and a sense of place,” Payne said.
Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2022, Payne said. The graduate student housing is expected to be ready for occupancy in summer 2024, according to the project website.
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