Student housing coming to downtown Cadillac

Construction is underway to convert the O'Neill building on West Harris Street to apartments for students.

Students at Baker College in Cadillac will soon have the option to live downtown.

Construction is underway to convert the O'Neill building on West Harris Street to apartments.

This project hopes to solve a long time problem at the school.

"There is a real housing need in Cadillac,â?? said Kelly Smith, Baker College of Cadillac President.

Baker College has been searching for a solution to ease that problem for months.

â??We've worked with local renters, rental agencies, real estate agents to try to help them find housing but it's been very difficult.â??

When students pushed for housing Baker College explored other options, which led them to the heart of downtown Cadillac.

â??We've been working with the city, with the downtown development, with local developers thinking about how could we work together to put something on for a year and a half.â??

The wait for housing is almost over for students.

Four people will share the 1,100 square foot apartments.

Smith is hoping the addition of 32 students will revitalize the atmosphere of downtown Cadillac.

â??I believe it will attract more and greater things to the downtown area and you'll find that Cadillac will be a hub of where people want to come. They want to come visitâ?¦ and hopefully spur some more housing in the downtown area.â??

Downtown businesses won't have to wait long to welcome the new tenants.

Construction crews have a head start on the project.

â??I've already got somewhat of a shell that I'm starting with so I can have crews working both inside and outside at the same time,â?? said Dean Dekryger from the DK Design Group.

The project is expected to wrap up in early 2014.

That's assuming the old age of the building is not hiding any secrets.

â??We kinda have to see what we get into as we tear some things off this. That's really the big unknown factor is when we pull the skin off that building how bad is the brick going to be?â??

Cadillac is the latest Baker College campus to add housing.

Students have housing options in Muskegon, Owosso and Flint.