Business owners near UE are excited about new student housing coming

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – After unveiling a new dorm this August, the University of Evansville is setting its sights on new student apartments.

For small business owners, foot traffic and accessibility is everything.

People in the door mean items sold, and for people like Sara Rhoades, the owner of The Confectionery right by the University of Evansville, “people” often mean students.

“I would say about a quarter of our customer base are students and faculty from the university,” says Rhoades.

The same goes for Annie and Matt Fitzpatrick, the owners of Bluestocking Social, a couple doors down from the Confectionery.

“We’ve got a good mix. We’ve had more students in this year than we have in the past,” says Annie.

Each of the businesses are excited about the new undertaking of the University of Evansville’s housing plan.

They’re in Phase II now, which includes building the new “Lincoln Commons” on the corner of Lincoln and Weinbach Avenue.

The building will house over 100 students in single, double, and four-person apartments.

Rhoades says putting the kids right at their doorstep could be beneficial for every single one of them.

“We get a lot of people that are walking, lots of students that are walking,” says Rhoades, “it’s really fun on a Saturday when they have rush and all the kids are walking around, and then they stop at the stores, but to have another hundred-plus people living very closely will definitely help our little store in this rougher economy.”

Not only will the complex house over 100 students, but the first level of the building will feature 35-hundred square feet of retail space.

Not to mention, they’ll also be building a parking lot with 96 spaces, hopefully helping solve an issue that the businesses say has been there for quite some time.

“A lot of the people that come here complain about the parking. There’s only the few spots that are just right out front,” says Matt, “they wish that there was something else… I could see a larger parking lot being a draw.”

For the businesses in the area, Rhoades says she wants there to be more interaction between them and the campus, and she’s happy that she and all of the businesses around her will be able to show the students in this new housing development something they might not always have access to.

“You know, just all those things that make something small and local, special,” says Rhoades.

To develop Lincoln Commons, several buildings on campus will be demolished, including the University Apartments, Ramona Apartments, one of the Hazeart Apartment buildings, and the former Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity House according to the University’s website.

The groundbreaking is going to be in February, and it’s expected to be completed before move-in for the Fall 2024 semester.