Students in this college town will soon have the option of living in style.
Nearly 900 luxury off-campus dorms are coming to the southeast corner of Davie and Griffin roads by fall 2018, just in time for a mini population boom.
The project, dubbed Downtown Davie, calls for 855 upscale dorm rooms — spread among five four-story buildings and one five-story tower — with shops, cafes and offices on the ground floors. Students will have access to a high-end gym and swimming pool.
“Everyone will have their own studio suite,” Davie Councilman Bryan Caletka said. “They are open to all students, but we believe Nova will be the driving force behind it. If you can afford to pay the tuition that Nova charges, you can afford the luxury dorm.”
An estimated 65,000 students already attend four universities in town — Nova Southeastern University, Broward College and satellite campuses from the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. With an expansion underway at Nova, several hundred more students are on the way, officials say.
Town leaders are hoping the $75 million mixed-use project transforms the long-vacant corner into a bustling downtown destination, a long-awaited goal that has eluded Davie until now.
“This is the gateway to the town,” said developer Harvey Mattel, a Fort Lauderdale attorney. “It will have a village feel. The town wants a walkable downtown like you have on Las Olas, where people don’t desert the town at night.”
Mattel and partner Ari Meltzer say they plan to break ground in June.
The dorms will open by July 2018, Mattel said, just in time for the start of school in the fall. Monthly rents are still being determined.
Each unit will feature several bedrooms off a central living and dining area, and come equipped with high-speed Internet, washer and dryer, electronic keys and other amenities.
“When I went to college, I was in a room the size of a closet with a bathroom down the hall,” Mattel said. “With this project, every room has a private bathroom. Every bedroom will have its own lock.”
A seven-story parking garage will rise on the interior of the 10-acre parcel, making it less visible from the street. The project will also include six “live-work” apartments for up-and-coming professionals. The units will have business space on the ground floor with living quarters above.
If not for the real estate bust, the project might have been built years ago, but with condos instead of dorms.
Current plans call for a modern look that incorporates a western theme, in keeping with town rules. Signs will have a western flair and street lights may be shaped like cowboy hats, though details are still in play.
Davie officials want the development to honor the town’s rural roots even as it paves the way for the future.
“We have become a college town,” Mayor Judy Paul said during a recent vote approving the project. “We have 67,000 students traveling down Davie Road to get to the universities. They don’t stay here.”
Town officials say this is just the kind of project needed to keep students in town.
“We need to have them in this area, where they can live and shop and eat meals,” Paul said. “In the long run, it’s going to enhance what we want to do in downtown Davie and make it a destination and not a pass-through.”
Nova has already opened a high-tech medical research center and is planning a second medical school and teaching hospital.
Nearly 1,500 students live in dorms on Nova’s main campus in Davie and another 1,500 are expected to need housing in the next couple years, university officials say.
“NSU is attracting more students from out of state and many are choosing to stay in the residence halls longer versus in off-campus housing,” said Aarika Camp, assistant dean of Student Services and Director of Residential Life and Housing.
Nova requires all undergrads with less than 48 credits to live on campus. With student enrollment on the rise, the university is researching the option of building more dorms that would open in 2020, Camp said.
“Full-time enrollment in the health professions is growing, and it continues to grow,” said Irv Rosenbaum, an executive dean at Nova. “It looks like the hospital is going to be built this year. That in itself is going to create a demand for housing.
“We’re going to have an increased demand for housing as a whole, for students and faculty who work here. We’re still growing.”
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