Hilltop Club Apartments on Thoroughbred Drive near Campbell Lane, which in recent years has seen dwindling occupancy from Western Kentucky University students along with a rising crime rate, could get a makeover targeting a new clientele.
Capstone Real Estate Investments of Birmingham, Ala., was approved Thursday by the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County for a general development plan amendment that calls for reducing the apartment complex’s total number of potential residents while nearly doubling the number of units.
The plan, which Capstone Executive Vice President Christopher Mouron said is preliminary, is aimed at shifting the Hilltop Club’s focus away from WKU students and more toward young professionals and families.
It would reduce the number of beds from 761 to about 587 while increasing the number of units from 218 to 362. The plan calls for converting the complex’s three-bedroom and four-bedroom units into one- or two-bedroom units.
It’s a strategy that Mouron believes will work in Bowling Green because it has worked for Capstone in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Hattiesburg, Miss.
“We finished similar renovations at the Landmark properties in Tuscaloosa and Hattiesburg,” said Mouron, who joined the meeting that was held via Zoom video conference. “We want to re-position the Hilltop Club into a modern, vibrant community that appeals to a variety of renters.”
That was a welcome concept for the planning commissioners, who voted 11-0 to approve the amended development plan for a property that has seen shootings, break-ins and other crimes rise as occupancy plummeted in recent years.
Capstone acknowledged the 15-year-old property’s problems and presented its proposed solution in a letter accompanying its development plan application.
“The original development was successful for a time but started to see a decline in occupancy when more purpose-built student housing properties were added to the market,” the letter said. “The newer and often better-located properties created competition that Hilltop Club has struggled to overcome.”
The result is a dismal current occupancy rate of about 40% that has led to lower rents and relaxed application screening, the Capstone letter said.
Mouron called Capstone’s plan “an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade” during Thursday’s meeting. In a Friday phone call, though, he was more cautious about the plan coming to fruition.
“This (development plan amendment) is one piece of our due diligence plan,” Mouron said. “It’s premature to presume we’re moving forward. We’re not there yet. We are excited about it, if we can get everything buttoned up.”
Meanwhile, another development plan amendment approved by the planning commission could lead to a shift away from apartments and toward single-family houses in the Plano area.
Magnolia Hills LLC, whose registered agent with the Kentucky secretary of state’s office is Bowling Green attorney Michael Vitale, was approved for an amendment that changes the plan for a 32.45-acre parcel near Plano Road and Interstate 165 from a 300-unit apartment complex to a mix of single-family lots and apartments totaling 170 housing units.
The amended plan said a 27-acre portion of the property will now be developed with 114 single-family houses. Each will have at least 1,000 square feet of living space and, at minimum, a one-car garage.
The remaining 5.45 acres will have up to 56 multi-family residential units, with a maximum of 16 units per building.
One other action taken by the planning commission should lead to more multi-family units in the 103-acre The Hub residential and commercial development taking shape along Lovers Lane near the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport.
The commissioners approved rezoning 49.31 acres at the rear of the development that will change property now zoned agricultural or highway business to multi-family residential.
The application submitted by the Hub East and Hub Multifamily LLCs said the rezoning will allow for additional multi-family housing and establish a new development plan that includes all current and proposed multi-family residential uses in the development.
David Chandler, developer of the $200 million The Hub project, said this rezoning will allow him to increase the multi-family unit count by 216 for a total of 806.
The Hub is already home to the three-story, 22,000-square-foot American Bank & Trust corporate center. A three-story, 32,727-square-foot office building on a 1.83-acre tract next door to the AB&T building is being built and will be home to a Morgan Stanley financial services office and other tenants.
The centerpiece of the development is a 195-room Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel now under construction. Chandler said the hotel should open in spring 2022.
The rezoning will go to the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.