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College of Design

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Three Years of Nonstop Housing Development Near Campus

Thinking back to the very start of our new housing construction craze around the U of M campus, it seems like just yesterday that the large fenced-off mud pit on 15th Avenue & 4th Street Southeast rose from the subsurface and became Sidney Hall - the big, fancy, modernesque new apartment building that boastfully became the pinnacle of elite living in Dinkytown. Sydney Hall was a huge hit and the units filled up faster than most expected. From that point on, the rest is pretty much a blur of new off-campus apartment buildings going up everywhere...and I mean everywhere.

It shocks me to say with almost absolute certainty that since the Sydney Hall project was labeled a huge success, the development and construction of new off-campus student housing has not stopped - not even for a week or two between projects. Developers flocked to the area to buy up any undeveloped or distressed land close to campus...and have rather quickly added added hundreds, possibly thousands of brand new apartment units for students willing to pay for a little extra amenity.

WaHu-RENDERING-1.jpgToday, the development frenzy continues at full strength and seems to now be extending into all marketable student neighborhoods around the U, and developers seem to be getting stronger with every new multi-million dollar building they complete. I'm a housing studies student and I literally cannot keep track of them almost seems out of control. Students are talking a lot about it too, and each person seems to have their own opinions on the impact it will have on the area. Truth be told, it's impossible to tell at this point whether a "housing bubble" is about to burst before our eyes or if the new units will assimilate in a positive and equitable way.

Regardless, the nature of the whole situation is simply unprecedented and the U of M area is being redesigned and redeveloped - both on on off campus - at a faster rate than anywhere else in the metro area. I personally like the new and changing scenery, it's exciting to be a housing student and watch these massive structures go up in passing every day from start to finish.

Wishing you all a fantastic first week of February - we've sure been having perfect weather for long and productive library sessions!

Jesse LaMaack
Housing Studies B.S.