CEDAR RAPIDS — A large new apartment complex could be erected just east of Kirkwood Community College, giving new options for students looking to live near campus.

The Villas at Kirkwood, 811 Kirkwood Parkway SW, would include 142 studio apartments split between two three-story buildings. The buildings would be north of 76th Avenue SW and just west of C Street SW.

“This is much needed student housing in this area,” said Joe Mailander, of Ament Design. “It is convenient to the C Street trail and some other amenities we hope spur additional development.”

The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the preliminary site development plan for phase one of the Villas during a meeting Thursday. The matter must still go before the Cedar Rapids City Council for approval.

Kirkwood has an enrollment of about 18,500 students and room for about 3,000 students near campus, Kirkwood spokesman Justin Hoehn said. He said Kirkwood doesn’t own or operate any of the apartment complexes.

“As far as demand goes, it’s difficult to judge that sort thing,” Hoehn said. “However, I can tell you that as we get closer to the start of the term, the complexes do fill up.”

The project is being proposed by Prairie Crossing Partners, which is organized by Steve Gordon, of Iowa City. Prairie Crossing LLC bought the property from Kirkwood for $1.2 million in 2014.

The 3.5 site is situated adjacent to Ruffalo Noel Levitz to the east, with another apartment complex to the northwest. Agricultural land surrounds the site on the other sides.

A proposal for another housing development adjacent to the site is expected to be submitted, city zoning administrator Vern Zakostelecky said.

The Villas would be constructed in two phases — 70 units in phase one and 72 units in phase two.

The second phase would need separate approval and likely an amendment to the future land use map before developers proceed because the additional units would make the complex exceed the density allowance for the area. The area is designated as medium density, which allows up to 24 units per acre.

The site plan includes 157 parking spaces, 77 in the first phase and 80 in the second. This is roughly one space per unit plus an additional 10 percent for visitors.