Approximately 35 acres of what has been the Obenshain family farm since 1937 is now contracted to be developed as a high-end housing development for students.
The family is working with Landmark Properties to create this community, called The Retreat, on the land located off Prices Fork Road across from Smith’s landing.
Landmark Properties develops student housing projects nationally, focusing on cottage style living, and was recognized as one of the 20 largest student housing operators in the country by Student Housing Business.
“We’re always looking all over the country for markets that we feel really need some additional student housing, and Blacksburg has been on our radar for a long time,” said Jason Doornbos, vice president of acquisitions and development for Landmark Properties.
The Obenshain family was approached by three major national student-housing companies before realizing it had ideal land for this type of project. After putting each company through a rigorous selection process, the 13 family members who own the farm chose Landmark.
“We have been long term residents of Blacksburg, and we have a long history with Tech. We have a lot of ties with the university, so we were looking for a project that we hope everyone can be proud of,” said land-owner Beth Obenshain. “We think they have the best product and the best chance of getting the project approved.”
The community will include over 850 new single bedrooms. Mimicking single-family homes, the average cottage will be four-bedroom, four-bath, with a living room and kitchen as well.
“I think it will offer college students a whole new concept of student housing," Obenshain said. "What they offer is quite different from the standard, fairly dense apartment buildings.”
The Retreat project has been successful on campuses across the nation, including developments at the University of South Carolina, Florida State and the University of Alabama.
“For students who want to live in something that’s more like a community rather than an apartment, this will be a very attractive option,” Obenshain said.
A range of luxury amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, fitness room, study room, entertainment lounge, movie theater, basketball courts and volleyball courts are available for each development, and every site ensures 24-hour on-site management.
"It will probably be more expensive than the apartments already available in Blacksburg just because it costs more to keep the amenities and the cottage lifestyle running," Doornbos said.
Doornbos said the goal of the project is to build a community for college students seperate from families or professors.
Landmark Properties previously had plans to build the same development on 48 acres in the Tom's Creek Basin north of Glade Road. That proposal was withdrawn in June