Opportunity in a Two-Fold Problem
Named for its address at 401 S. Main Street, the contemporary loft apartment building 401 Lofts takes pride in defining a walkable urban lifestyle that Akron, OH has been waiting for. The University of Akron, known for years as the region’s “commuter college”, aimed to challenge this stigma in light of the university’s recent enrollment increases of nearly 8%. Through the vital partnership between theUniversity of Akron, City of Akron, Richland Development and Bialosky Cleveland, all sides sat at the same table to find opportunity in a two-fold problem: the University’s housing crisis and the regression of the City’s downtown. 401 Lofts was the solution to both, and has now become a regionalfront-runner in how students interact with and infill urban environments.
Since day one, 401 Lofts has only been met with success- with 323 beds and 163,000 sf, the development advertises the highest per square foot rental rates within the university district, while being the only property to currently boast a 100% occupancy rate. The reason for this success? The right balance of unique suite types, modern amenities and proximity to a bustling active downtown.
The project is comprised predominantly of two, three and four bedroom lofts (each bedroom with their own private bathroom). However, the project’s greatest asset is its tailor-made Studio Lofts, a suite type unique to the Akron student housing market. These 420 s.f. lofts provide residents with a truly contemporary, urban experience that shattered the traditional stereotype of student-life. Each suite has spacious floor to ceiling windows, hardwood floors, and 9’ or taller ceilings to achieve the “loft” feel. Kitchens come standard with granite countertops and appliances, including washers and dryers. Each suite is fully furnished, including leather sofas, coffee table, full-size beds and even a wall mounted 46” LED TV, including cable. The intent became to design desirable inhabitable spaces that were more apartment-like than dorm-like, and to directly mix these occupants into the city fabric, not just the campus fabric. It is this design sensibility that has elevated 401 Lofts as a high-demand product.
The ground floor of 401 Lofts engages Akron’s urban center with 4,300 s.f. of amenities, including a clubhouse, 24/7 game and billiards rooms, lounge, beverage bar, fitness center, tanning bed and even a “Latte Lounge” where students can fill-up with free coffee, lattes and espressos any time of the day or night. Yoga studios, movie theaters, study rooms and a conference center are strategically dispersed throughout the development to offer the academic support facilities desired by its students and maybe of greater importance a sanctuary for those much needed study breaks. A heated swimming pool, the only one in = Akron, and deck are the capstone amenities of 401 Lofts’ recreational offerings. This inviting exterior environ, complete with gas grilles and an outdoor fireplace with a large weather-proof LED TV, provides its residence with an unrivaled entertainment venue.
To stay on budget and achieve the Developer’s suite / bed count, an inventive construction approach was implemented. The solution, a hybrid system comprised of an exterior wall built of ICFs, (Insulated Concrete Forms) and an interior wood frame wall system that could accommodate the desired five stories required to meet the targeted bed count. This hybrid approach, coupled with energy-efficient, thermally broken aluminum windows and energy-efficient PTAC heating and cooling units collectively work in harmony to deliver an energy-conscious design. This fully integrated approach allowed the Developer to realize the lowest energy cap rates in the market and in-turn provide a unique rental product that includes all base utilities.
401 Lofts is clad in a Tuscan brick, fiber cement lap siding and champagne-colored metallic panels whose iridescent properties create shifting color renditions of the cladding depending on the viewer’s location. These materials and building massing blend with adjacent city fabric to create of seamless context between the old and new. At night, 401 Lofts is aglow with light and life. This hallmark development mends the City’s broken urban fabric and activates a once blighted neighborhood with a youthful exuberance not seen since The Rubber City’s glory days long ago