- 2022-01-18

Dorms for Ivy Tech? Not quite, but close with project next to Lafayette campus

Originally published in The Journal and Courier

LAFAYETTE – Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, not in a position as a commuter college to add residence halls, could wind up with something close by the start of its fall 2021 semester.

A rezoning plan working its way to the Lafayette City Council would open seven acres next to the Ivy Tech campus for an apartment complex called Anvil 38, adding more than 400 beds designed in large part to attract students going full-time at the two-year school.

“It’s a first for an Ivy Tech campus, that we know of,” Tom McCool, an Ivy Tech spokesman, said. “It’s something we’re really excited about having right there.”

Joe Blake, a principal with Iron Men Properties, a Lafayette development company, said he took the idea to David Bathe, chancellor at Ivy Tech’s Lafayette campus three years ago.

“I had a feel that Ivy Tech was becoming more of a traditional institution – in other words, more students coming straight out of high school and probably wanting more of a tradition college experience, even when attending Ivy Tech,” Blake said. “When I mentioned the concept and whether there was a possibility there, David’s eyes just lit up.”

According to plans presented last week to the Area Plan Commission, Iron Man wants to put up a two-building, four-story complex between Indiana 38 and Ivy Tech’s campus on Creasy Lane. Scheduled to be built in two phases, Anvil 38 would have 307 units with 411 bedrooms and sit behind the Lafayette Family YMCA that opened in 2018.

“What we’re trying to accomplish here is something that is privately owned – because statutorily from the state, Ivy Tech is not allowed to own residence halls – but it’s closely connected, and it feels like it’s a part of that community,” Blake said.

The Ivy Tech Foundation bought the property, once the Point East Mobile Home Park, in 2012. Part of that land was eventually used for the YMCA. Thoughts about using the remaining seven acres for Ivy Tech expansion didn’t happen.

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McCool said the proposal from Iron Men Properties “was a perfect fit” for the Lafayette campus and hopes Ivy Tech had for recruiting students and then keeping them.

“We have students who travel from outside our service area and from out-of-state,” McCool said.

“So, this is an attraction for someone like that for someone who wants to come to the Lafayette campus and would rather live nearby than have to travel,” McCool said. “It could even be a local person who doesn’t want to live at home with mom and dad and would like to have their own place.”

McCool said that 1,426 of the 5,219 students enrolled at the Lafayette campus lived outside a 10-county region that includes Tippecanoe County, seven contiguous counties plus Jasper and Newton counties farther north. Another 278 of those students live outside Indiana, McCool said.

McCool said Ivy Tech’s enrollment – which often skews toward older students fitting college courses in with full-time work – included 408 students in fall 2019 who were recent high school graduates taking a full-time course load at Ivy Tech.

“There’s a retention component to this from our side at Ivy Tech,” McCool said.

The Lafayette campus has a 46 percent retention rate, which McCool called the best among Ivy Tech’s 19 campuses.

“They’re closer to campus. They’re close to other students. There’s some sort of connection then. They can walk over here whenever they want and go to the library or the (Learning Resource Center) or go to the computer lab. They’d have all of that available to them nearby,” McCool said.

“Our expectation, of course, is to have (Anvil 38) full and have those students walking down the sidewalk to come to class,” McCool said. “I think Iron Men has some expectation about that, too.”

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Iron Men Properties is the same firm the built Faith West – apartments and a community center close to Purdue, conceived by Lafayette’s Faith Church – the Faith Community Center on Faith Church’s campus on Indiana 26 and the Nickel Plate Flats and Lofts, a complex on the Clinton County Courthouse square in Frankfort.

Blake said the project near Ivy Tech will cost estimated $19 million and will cater to Ivy Tech students and what he called “a younger demographic looking for younger amenities and to be near a younger demographic.”

Ivy Tech, which is expected to sell the seven acres for the project, also will provide up to 112 spaces in its lot for off-site parking for Anvil 38, according to plans shown to the Area Plan Commission.

“We’re not looking just to build apartments with this,” Blake said. “It’s about student recruitment and retention and making Ivy Tech a long-term, viable education option for Lafayette. We’re trying to strengthen the hands of Ivy Tech to accomplish their mission. Yes, in the process, we’re going to own a piece of property, and it’s going to be a good investment for us and all of that. But that’s not the thing that resonates for me on a project we see as a real partnership in the community.”

IF YOU GO: The Lafayette City Council is expected to consider a rezoning request for Anvil 38 at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Lafayette City Hall, 20 N. Sixth St.

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