About Dan Schimberg
Company Uptown Rental Properties
Education University of Cincinnati
First Job Stereo sales
Mantra “Operate with respect for all, and conduct yourself with integrity.”
Hidden Talent Winter sports
Definition of Leadership “Hire the people you trust, and trust the people you hire to bring their brains to work.”
When I began this business, it was virtually impossible for students to find a quality place to live after moving out of the dorms. Back then, the student housing industry was embryonic and fragmented because off-campus landlords around universities didn’t really care about their reputations due to the natural churn in student renters from year-to-year. I felt like we could do better, so I renovated a home with quality fixtures and features. It rented quickly and for a very fair return. I replicated that formula, and in a few years Uptown had a reputation for quality housing around the University of Cincinnati, offering nice, clean, and affordable places to live.
As today’s off-campus student housing industry emerged, we were positioned to provide a larger number of quality multifamily units because we discovered the broad gulf between what the market was delivering and what students actually want. The days of Animal House are long gone. Today’s service involves clean, safe and affordable residences. It’s about location, but there’s more. There’s a large group of people who attend universities who are not ready to leave behind the features they grew up with. They want a clean bathroom, windows that work, environmental comfort—in short, a place to live that’s on-par with the homes they come from.
What we did in the days before LEED was understand that off-campus housing is a fixed budget issue. Years ago, landlords didn’t grasp why the lack of energy-saving features forced students to pay more money to the electric company, leaving less available for the rent. We recognized that good windows, energy-saving appliances, and good insulation justifies fair rents and lowers utility costs. The fact that all of those are LEED features as well is a happy coincidence. But Uptown’s decision to do that 20 years ago was more about our desire to help students keep their housing expenditures in the fixed-cost category, which makes our properties more attractive. We like to take LEED features that benefit our student residents as they help lower our own turnover costs before re-renting, features such as sustainable materials that cut down on replacement, high-efficiency appliances and HVAC, smaller designed spaces that heat and cool more efficiently, good insulation. It’s a win-win for the resident and for us.
We’re drawn to urban infill development because we’re “reusing dirt” rather than breaking new ground; we’re picking locations that are near public transportation and utilizing existing city infrastructure. At the end of the day, we strive for a win-win, for our students, for Uptown, and for a practical design and location that enhance the urban environment.
We partner with several LEED-centric contractors. Our recently-completed Jefferson House complex was developed with Turnbull-Wahlert, which is a high-end general contracting firm that has developed a couple of projects for us, both of which are certified LEED Gold. Turnbull-Wahlert has established a specialized niche in LEED development, and we enjoy working with them.
Our Euclid Square, Views on Vine, 65 West, and Vine Street Flats projects are all LEED for Homes Silver. In all of them, extremely efficient design is critical. They feature open floor plans with no interior corridors and are slightly smaller than most apartments, but residents don’t notice due to the abundance of windows, higher ceilings, more glass and balconies, which makes for greater energy efficiency, appealing aesthetics, and higher quality of living. Our units are primarily studios and single bedrooms, along with traditional two and four bedrooms. We try to design our apartments with high resident turnover in mind. And that means it has to be high-end, utilitarian, and practical in order to effectively manage.
Until recently, Uptown primarily served the Cincinnati community, but in the last few years, the firm has begun to carefully expand its footprint into other parts of the country. We’re involved in a rather ambitious off-campus student housing development in a southern state. The project is not seeking LEED certification, but we are incorporating a lot of LEED design features into the development just because it makes the property more valuable and sustainable to us.