Ottawa University will add to its off-campus student housing options thanks to an exclusive lease agreement partnership with local businessman Josh Walker, owner of Loyd Builders, an Ottawa-based construction company.

Walker is developing living space for the university as part of a $3.5 million multi-use redevelopment project of the historic Halloren Building at 401 S. Main St., which he bought in August 2018.

Walker said he purchased the building with the express intent to restore it in a historically respective manner that would result in a modern space for local business. The first phase of the project was reconstructing the building’s commercial space at the corner of 4th and Main streets into a community hub to include a cafe and art gallery. The Corner Market and Gallery at the Halloren was completed in October and held its grand opening in November.

“When it came to researching uses for the second floor, housing of some nature came to the forefront as the most viable option,” Walker said.

Walker said Loyd Builders and Ottawa University have had a long and successful relationship with the company completing several projects on campus, including construction of the Gibson Student Center and most recently the new press box and Braves Hall of Fame. Therefore, Walker and his team approached university officials with the idea of developing housing on the second floor for the university to lease.

“Mutual interest was shared during our initial meetings, and we collaborated over the next few months on the project design,” Walker said. “Ottawa University is an important part of the community. This project represents a significant investment in Ottawa’s downtown and it only seems appropriate to have the university be a part of it. I’m excited about the energy that will come from having students downtown and among the community.”

The project will consist of nine suite-style units to provide housing for 38 students. Each suite will be fully equipped with modern amenities, including a kitchenette, living area, laundry room, storage space, and a bathroom for every two beds. Architectural features will include high ceilings, polished concrete floors, exposed brick and large windows. Halloren Building LLC will provide an annual lease agreement to the university, and OU will furnish the suites for its students.

“Ottawa University is excited, and grateful to Josh for offering modern living spaces for our students in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown as part of this innovative mixed-use project,” said Reggies Wenyika, OU president. “These contemporary suites will offer OU students additional off-campus housing options just blocks away from our main campus. This is just another example of the wonderful relationship the university has with Josh, Loyd Builders and the Ottawa community at large.”

Construction is scheduled for completion this spring, according to Walker. An official from OU Student Affairs said students will tentatively be able to move into the suites during the summer and fall terms. The suits will be reserved for OU upperclassmen.