Student High-rises

Even an "anti-student" type should favor them

Speaking for myself alone, I have nearly always supported putting high-rise student housing as near to the University as possible.  There was one occasion when I didn't, while on the Council, and I'm sorry now.  I strongly supported University View while on the Council and I strongly supported Mazza as President of NCPCA.  

High-rises give students choices they don't have now, and high-rises also increase the competition with other landlords -- just by being there they lower what landlords of single-family dwellings can charge for rent.  Being against them on principle is obviously anti-student.  The Diamondback once unfairly labelled me as "anti-student" when I was on the Council, but let's assume the worst -- that you, the reader, and I are both in fact anti-student.  Opposition to high rises is a preposterous way of being anti-student.  If we are going to be anti-students, let's be logical about it.

Putting high-rise student housing next to campus has the following advantages:

1. It takes cars off Route 1.  It is no accident that the worst jams occur when students are going to and leaving classes.  The proof of the importance of the student traffic is how much easier it is to get around town in the summer.

2. It is disagreeable but necessary to point out that undergraduates as a group are often noisy and sometimes drunk.  I say this as the father of a recent Terp who was neither.  High-rises give potentially unruly undergrads an alternative to living next door to you or me.

3.  High-rises have full-time paid managers who monitor tenant behavior, as opposed to absentee landlords who don't.  This is importantly related to point #2. Nearly all the City's noise complaints are generated by absentee owners' rentals.

4. High-rises create a concentrated market for retail, which nearly everybody wants in downtown CP.  If you want a more diverse set of businesses, you will need a more concentrated group of customers.  

5. Because high-rises reduce the amount that single-family-unit landlords can charge less for rent, "investors" bid less on homes in residential neighborhoods. They are more often outbid by homebuyers, and this helps to preserve the share of homeowners in the neighborhoods.  

Summary:  If you are pro-student, you favor high-rises near campus.  If you are rationally anti-student, you favor high-rises near campus.  If you're an "investor," of course, you don't want the competition, and you don't mind what that means for the neighborhoods.  The remaining position is to be against everything, and still expect the City's problems to get better.  Dream on.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robert Catlin September 30, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Well said and logical, too. Thanks Mark
SF September 30, 2011 at 08:37 PM
"pro-student" and "anti-student" is kind of a ridiculous frame. After all, we do live in COLLEGE Park.
Pamela Torro October 02, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Good blog with good points and I will say that I am not anti highrises. However,I do not like the current high rises that look like they may collapse on route 1 and prevent any expansion of a very busy road. And furthermore, I want to see that this influx fills to capacity prior to building more. As for #2 - all I will say is "as far as you know" ha ha.
Rick Hudson October 03, 2011 at 01:17 PM
I agree with Pam... That being said we need to make sure it is measured and smart. UTC in Hyattsville is a great example of this. "If you build it they... will come" worked for Kevin Costner but it may not be a wise plan here.
Sean October 09, 2011 at 03:19 PM
High-rises adjacent to campus are great IF they contain spillover onto Route 1 but I'd like to see some data to support the notion that commuters are abandoning their cars for these units. Anecdotally, I find subsequent modification to traffic patters (i.e. traffic light) to satisfy the developer to further clog the Route 1 Corridor.
Patrick Wojahn October 10, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Thanks, Mark, for this comment. I agree with most of what you said, and have often found myself defending at least the concept of the high rises, even if I won't necessarily defend their appearance or architecture. I often ask people - would you rather have the students live where the University is practically in their back yard and they can bike, walk, or take an available shuttle to class, or live in Laurel or Silver Spring and contribute to the congestion on the Beltway or US 1 by driving to class? And in terms of them living in the neighborhoods - that may have worked for a while, but until the high-rises were built, the shortage of student housing forced many students who wanted to live close to campus to pay moderate to high rents to live in overcrowded housing. I've seen students pay $500 or higher per month to live on back porches in homes. Even if the County and City prohibit people from living more than five to a house, the students and some of the landlords have found ways to get around this and actively tried to make enforcement of this rule difficult. The high rises have at least given students more options, and hopefully as more of them open, the competition will force them to become more affordable. The University is doing a study now to see where we're at in terms of filling the unmet demand, so that will help us know how much of a housing shortage still exists.
Jonathan Kent October 12, 2011 at 01:36 AM
Meanwhile, why don't you tell us how much the high rises actually charge students?! $900-1500 PER ROOM! That's right, stop hiding behind your lies. You're not pro-student. If you were pro-student, you would have implemented the same rent control that you successfully implemented on single family homeowners. But instead, you gave the developers free reign to charge ANYTHING THEY WANT to students. Nice job, hypocrites.
DAD October 12, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Good point. Now lets put the all the ugly utilities underground. Nothing will make Rt. 1 look good until we do.
Richard October 15, 2011 at 01:36 PM
The ridiculous rent control that only applies to single family homes negates the point of competition to lower the rates. Because of rent control, the single family homes are cheaper to rent. While it keeps new investors out, the existing rentals are in high demand since they are artificially low.
homeontherange October 15, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Agree with Bob Catlin.


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