Seeing Green

Profit and growth abound with recent construction

Calyn Dunklau, Staff Writer

Sprouting out of the ground with the persistence of a dandelion, the sudden construction of numerous apartment buildings in Wayne has residents wondering if it’s time to take action or time to enjoy the colors of growth.

Over the last five years, 11 new multifamily dwellings received building permits. This number does not include those brought forward in 2014.

Prior to construction, a contractor must submit a building permit application to the City of Wayne to be reviewed. From there, changes are made and construction starts. When it comes time, Joel Hansen, City Inspector, does a walk-through of the new building, checking for proper construction of the structure.

This means a total of 128 bedrooms became available for rent in a matter of five years. And again, this doesn’t include the ones to come in 2014.

The question is, can the residents of Wayne see the beauty in the dandelion apartments or would they rather see them weeded out?

“My feelings on the apartments are mixed,” City Council President Jill Broderson said. “There’s good and bad here.”

Broderson sits on one of the most active councils in Wayne’s history. Numerous programs are available as an incentive for contractors to tackle their projects. But with those programs comes a catch, builders must submit their plans to the Architectural Committee while builders who aren’t using city funds can avoid this all together.

The Architectural Committee reviews the plans and makes changes, helping the structures fit into the neighborhoods better. Things like adding stone or brick work, moving the entrances to face the street or adding shutters help the structure blend with the surrounding homes.

Some neighborhoods in Wayne have covenants, requiring any new construction to look a certain way or prohibiting some things, but some don’t have those rules. Apartments built here aren’t required to look any certain way, unless the builder is receiving funding from the city.

“Those apartments follow the city ordinances, but maybe the ordinances need changed,” Broderson, who also sits on the Architectural Committee, said.

Apartments built in the neighborhoods without covenants tend to look more basic, with little to no architectural interest. Broderson would like to see the city’s zoning and ordinances revised.

Broderson went on to explain that all the extra things the Architectural Committee changes cost more than a basic build. Builders want to keep their costs low and begin making money off their rental property as soon as possible, which makes sense, but it doesn’t always make neighbors happy.

If the city ordinances were rewritten, it could mean that all new construction would be forced onto the same playing field. Builders not receiving funds from the city would still be required to go the extra mile with their properties. There would be no avoiding making a new apartment something more than just a box with a few doors and windows.

And with all these buildings comes the renters, majority of them being college kids. That usually means an abundance of cars and people at all hours of the night, doesn’t it?

In reality, there hasn’t been a discernable pick-up in complaints regarding the new apartments.

“There really hasn’t been an increase in calls,” Police Chief Marlen Chinn said. “I think it’s because the Council set rules for parking and things like that.”

Chinn also stated he believed the property owners are being attentive to their buildings, keeping things from becoming an issue with neighbors.

Renters in Wayne pay a premium for their housing, be it new and in great shape or derelict and molding.
Those brand new apartments were snatched up quickly because renters in Wayne are aware of the predicament they are in. While some landlords price their units fairly, a good deal of others steal a renter’s last penny.

But if the rent is already high, why would a renter chose to live in a bad apartment with a landlord who doesn’t care about the property when they could live in a nice, new, energy efficient apartment?

“I hope by having the new apartments, the college kids won’t be desperate enough to rent a bad one,” Broderson said.

So where do these apartments leave the college?

“Right now it is too early to say if we are impacted by the recent expansion of off campus housing,” Director of Residence Life Matthew Weekley said. “When comparing our numbers from previous years, we haven’t seen a decline in housing applications beyond normal fluctuations.”

Weekley went on to say that it is normal to have a slight fluctuation in housing numbers from year to year, so it is difficult to say whether the 3.5 percent drop, which is considered marginal, between last year and this year’s dorm enrollment, is due to the new apartments.

At the Nebraska State College System board meeting on April 25, WSC will be discussing residence hall improvement funding.

“If we get approval to begin the planning, funding for the planning will not be available until July 1, 2014. The planning will help us to determine how we proceed with improvements,” Vice President of Administration and Finance Angela Fredrickson said. “The possibilities may include renovating current spaces to include some additional suite-style housing, an addition to an existing hall, or possibly building a new hall.”

Decisions will become solidified once the funds are approved, and until then no real details can be determined, nor can a set timeline be established.

Between the numerous apartment buildings popping up and the possible additional residence hall on campus, it’s obvious that growth and improvement are in Wayne’s future, dandelions or not.