Developer pitches more student housing near UO

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The University of Oregon student housing construction boom is over, Eugene real estate developers and brokers increasingly say.

But Bill Syrios, owner of the campus rental firm Stewardship Properties, thinks there's still room for one more project.

"There's no question that it's overbuilt," Syrios said. But "while there is probably too much supply, mostly it's that there's too much supply of apartments."

So he hopes to squeeze six single-family houses with a total of 29 bedrooms onto a quarteracre lot at 18th Avenue and Mill Alley, west of the University of Oregon, according to documents he filed late last month with the city of Eugene.

With his Quack Alley Houses plan, Syrios hopes to target the same UO students many other developers have courted with flashy new apartments over the past decade.

"Houses have often been scraped off to build apartment complexes," he said, "So students coming to college wanting to have the experience of living in a home together often aren't finding as many available as in previous years."

Syrios owns the quarter-acre lot, which is undeveloped and used for parking. Dense single-family houses and small apartments surround the property.

Each house would be three stories high. Five of them would include five bedrooms, while the other would have four. Cars would park between the five-bedroom houses. Tenants in the four-bedroom house would park in leased space across East 18th Avenue.

Syrios hopes to build the first house early next year. The others would follow as he lines up financing, possibly over several years.

It's the first new construction project for Syrios, who owns and manages more than 20 apartment complexes across Eugene, property records show.

Some of the analysts warning against new student projects point to local housing and UO enrollment data, showing the number of new units geared toward students has more than doubled the UO's actual enrollment gains since 2009. Those trends haven't stopped a different developer from planning a 139-unit student apartment complex at East 15th Avenue and Orchard Street.

Even Syrios' architect on the Quack Alley project, Jonathan Stafford, cautioned him about the plan.

"That area is getting overbuilt, just all around the university," Stafford said. "But Bill is the property manager."

Syrios said he wouldn't build without confidence he could find renters, though he hasn't finalized rents yet.

"I've been a real estate investor for over 25 years," he said. "If I build something, there really has to be some demand for it, and I think in this niche market of student housing, there's still interest in houses, per se, though I think we've got enough apartments to last us the next five years of growth."


Information from: The Register-Guard,

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