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  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    College neighborhoods

    Almost everyone here, I thnk, knows of neighborhoods next to university campuses. There is a long list of issues in such places:

    - excessive noise
    - litter
    - vandalism (mostly after bar time)
    - student/resident conflicts
    - a proliferation of bars
    - low-end retail serving the student population
    - restaurants trending to "quick" food
    - parking issues
    - overcrowded housing
    - deteriorating building stock as landlords tend not to invest in maintenance

    What I am looking for are exemples of such neighborhoods, next to a campus, including a commercial district. In particular, I am looking for good examples of how some of these problems have been addressed, or how the neighborhood has managed to position itself away from the student market. I am thinking of places like Monroe Street, in Madison, for instance. If you have links or contacts, that would be very helpful.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Why would the neighborhood want to position itself away from student housing? Is that not the best place for the students to live, next to campus? Not everyone will live in the dorm and it is better to have them next to campus than all over town.

    South Miami next to UM is a good example of an area I understand used to have a lot of off campus student housing that has poistioned itself away...mainly due to real estate price. That is where I lived in Miami and it was unfortunate that the students had to live all over town and commute 45 mins to class.

    When I was as student at UT I lived in the Fort in Knoxville which is the neighborhood you descibed...it was great!!!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    There is a section right next to Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University that is high end residential and a historic district.

    On the other hand, the Vine neighborhood has made leaps and bounds. It is a historic district with higher property standards and specific color and style requirements, and façade and repair grants are available for owner occupied homes. For code enforcement, there is no warning, they just write tickets for litter, trash and debris, parking on the grass, and other violations. They also put a branch of the police department in a house that was confiscated because it was a drug house in the center of the neighborhood. You can only park on one side of the road each night and the other side of the street the next so they can plow and run the street sweeper. They also have junk pickup (like spring cleaning pickup) once a month.

    They also have bike, foot, and car police patrols in the neighborhood during ‘event’ weekends.

  4. #4
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    I'm one of those college students who lives in most of the conditions you described below. I'm at the University of Cincinnati and if you didn't know it is a very urban campus in the middle of Cincinnati. All of those problems are issues that the campus area faces, especially the student/resident conflicts since campus is directly in the middle of town.

    What UC has done recently is create joint partnerships with these community organizations and will give loans to them to buy up the low-end retail and fast food joints and build new housing and retail developments. Most of these development will be controlled by private developers and not the university.

    The first link is a urban redevelopment corporation which bought up a couple of blocks directly south of campus that pretty much consisted of fast food joints, low-end bars, parking lots, and lots of litter and vandalism. They are constructing condos, townhomes, street level retail, restaurants, and a outdoor market http://www.chcurc.org/

    This second link is another urban redevelopment group which has bought quite a few acres west of campus to make new student housing. The houses that were there were a mixture of students and residents, so alot of fighting went about since alot of those houses were somewhat upscale. The group bought out most of the surrounding houses and is now almost finished with the new student housing project.
    http://www.stratfordheightscommunity.org/

    And this last one is a plan that is still in the process of being put together. It involves a business district directly east of campus that has seen its fair share of good and bad times. Its a pretty dirty and rowdy neighborhood but is trying to rebound and bring the students and community back with it.
    http://ci.cincinnati.oh.us/cdap/pages/-7760-/

    I don't know how well this helps you but I gave it a shot.

  5. #5
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    Try the northgate area of College Station, TX. The redevelopment plan for that area is available at http://www.cstx.gov/docs/real_estate5b.pdf

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Almost everyone here, I thnk, knows of neighborhoods next to university campuses. There is a long list of issues in such places:

    - excessive noise
    - litter
    - vandalism (mostly after bar time)
    - student/resident conflicts
    - a proliferation of bars
    - low-end retail serving the student population
    - restaurants trending to "quick" food
    - parking issues
    - overcrowded housing
    - deteriorating building stock as landlords tend not to invest in maintenance

    What I am looking for are exemples of such neighborhoods, next to a campus, including a commercial district. In particular, I am looking for good examples of how some of these problems have been addressed, or how the neighborhood has managed to position itself away from the student market. I am thinking of places like Monroe Street, in Madison, for instance. If you have links or contacts, that would be very helpful.

    Look for The Ohio State University Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. It's a model that everyone has been using.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    Why would the neighborhood want to position itself away from student housing? Is that not the best place for the students to live, next to campus? Not everyone will live in the dorm and it is better to have them next to campus than all over town.
    The problem is that student lifestyles (parties, alchohol, noise, etc.) cause conflicts with long-term residents. Landlords do not maintain their properties, or at least to the same degree as residents. Residents are having their lives disturbed and face the threat of losing value in their properties as these activities increase around them. Of equal importance, there is a commercial district here that is trending away from neighborhood-oriented retail to bars and low-end restaurants. Properties are not seeing a desirable amount of reinvestment, the neighborhood is not being served, and the newer uses are contributing to "after bar-hours" problems. The balance in this neighborhood is tipping in an undisirable direction as too many students are moving in, destabilizing it. I am looking for examples of similar neighborhoods, with both residential and commercial components, that have held off this decline or recovered from it.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Davis, CA has good neighbourhoods directly adjacent to campus. One of their tools is taking an existing neighbourhood and overlaying a mixed use Planned Development on it. I think it is called PD 2-86. How sick is that, that I can remember the PD zoning of something from 14 years ago? Anyway, they also have a living groups ordinance that helps to create good neighbour policies between frats/sororities and neighbours (which I wrote...hehehe), and other planning tools. It just so happens that the contact I would send you to is a Cyburbian. Maybe she could help with some up-to-date strategies.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    The Porter Square area in Cambridge/Sommerville, Mass is in between the Harvard and Tufts campuses and there is another small school located right nearby. It does have a lot of high-end residential houses, nice apts and lots of stores. Still, some stuff is college focused, but there is a lot of retail that is not. It might be worth a look.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    The annex in Toronto is adjacent to the University and is kind of a student neighbourhood, but not really. The way it has positioned itself is mostly due to the cost of rent ($1500 for a mid sized 1 bedroom).

    It is also home to Jane Jacobs.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    I think I got a perfect example. It's called the Student Ghetto. It's located directly north of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The street boundaries are Barrie Street in the east, Collingwood Street and Nelson Street in the west, Princess Street in the north, and Union Street in the south. In fact, there's Olympics held at the heart of the ghetto, on Aberdeen Street. Homecoming parties are held there. Descriptions of all student ghettos are revolting here on Aberdeen St. Recently, a family has finally given up with putting up with the shebang that goes with living on Aberdeen Street, after living there for 27 years!

    Also, the homes that the students occupy are generally old, large Victorian homes.

    I'm sure most student ghettos look the same... it's funny to hear how parents dream of being landlords for these beautiful Victorian homes because of their beauty and of the assumed steady income from rent payments. Gosh, they're sure in a real surprise if they do go ahead with their dream. For once, some dreams are meant to stay as dreams, I suppose.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    The problem is that student lifestyles (parties, alchohol, noise, etc.) cause conflicts with long-term residents. Landlords do not maintain their properties, or at least to the same degree as residents. Residents are having their lives disturbed and face the threat of losing value in their properties as these activities increase around them. Of equal importance, there is a commercial district here that is trending away from neighborhood-oriented retail to bars and low-end restaurants. Properties are not seeing a desirable amount of reinvestment, the neighborhood is not being served, and the newer uses are contributing to "after bar-hours" problems. The balance in this neighborhood is tipping in an undisirable direction as too many students are moving in, destabilizing it. I am looking for examples of similar neighborhoods, with both residential and commercial components, that have held off this decline or recovered from it.
    ok. but it just seems to be a natural evolution of a neighborhood close to a school. The students have to live eat & drink somewhere...why not next to campus, is all I am saying. I think a good, "college" neighborhood" is part of the comming of age experience. what did the folks who bought houses next to a school expect? bingo tournies?!

    I know you have the 'citizens' best interest in mind, I just feel sorry for the students, who will end up in some dorm apt accross town where they have to get their slice pf pie from fazolis.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Just looking at most college students, the worst are usually freshmen and sophmores. Many colleges have requirements that have them live on campus during this time. Also, if the college itself keeps up reasonably well with the demand for housing from its students(dorms), then there will be less pressure upon the neighborhood to morph into a student ghetto.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I am wondering if Manhattan, Kansas is a good example. I lived there too many years ago to say anything about a residential neighborhood near campus but there was a really neat and thriving walkable commercial district catty-corner across from the main gate to Kansas. It is labeled "Aggieville" on this map.

    The Aggieville Business Association website has a somewhat more detailed map.

    Can any of the "in the know" Kansans/KSU grads comment? (I am thinking Budgie, El Guapo, Queen B or someone else in that neck of the woods will likely know more than I do.)

  15. #15

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    Some things seem pretty much inevitable to me, and the character of a campus neighborhood near a relatively large state university is one of those things. As long as a landlord can (conservatively) make 3X as much money renting a house out to students, the neighborhood will be a difficult place for other people to enjoy.

    I suppose you could require residency on campus, and I can think of some good reasons for doing so. But the State of Colorado is unlikely to be able to afford to build enough dorm space for all of the frosh and sophomores, and even less likely to want to fight the tremendous political battle that a residency requirement would create.

    Beside which, who is the City to judge a "desirable" level of reinvestment? At least beyond actual blight? Would Boulder be better off without the students (and all of the folks they support)? I think not. Those functions have to be served. I remember returning to Madison 10 years or so after leaving grad school and finding that my favorite dive bar had been "re-vitalized" out of existence. We need to plan for all phases of life, and this is one of them.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    ok. but it just seems to be a natural evolution of a neighborhood close to a school. The students have to live eat & drink somewhere...why not next to campus, is all I am saying. I think a good, "college" neighborhood" is part of the comming of age experience. what did the folks who bought houses next to a school expect? bingo tournies?!

    I know you have the 'citizens' best interest in mind, I just feel sorry for the students, who will end up in some dorm apt accross town where they have to get their slice pf pie from fazolis.
    OK, but how about neighborhoods that are transitioning from owner-occupied to student-dominated? If these neighborhoods were not near a campus, and we saw the same disinvestment and rise in obnoxious behaviour, wouldn't we do something about it? If the retail was giving way to bars, and there were riots every few years, wouldn't we try to change that? It isn't that we are now looking for ways to keep students out, but we want to preserve a good environment for permanent residents and families, and maximize the value (social and monetary) of the commercial district. As with many of the examples offered so far, the university could have a role here.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    But the State of Colorado is unlikely to be able to afford to build enough dorm space for all of the frosh and sophomores, and even less likely to want to fight the tremendous political battle that a residency requirement would create.
    This is a situation faced by many colleges nationally and has been met by increasing use of publi-private partnerships that basically give investors a nominal rate of return for the funds to build better student housing. This has enabled many colleges to offer dorms that have many amenities that 60's/70's dorms or the private market can, or will not provide. win/win imho

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Some things seem pretty much inevitable to me, and the character of a campus neighborhood near a relatively large state university is one of those things. As long as a landlord can (conservatively) make 3X as much money renting a house out to students, the neighborhood will be a difficult place for other people to enjoy.

    I suppose you could require residency on campus, and I can think of some good reasons for doing so. But the State of Colorado is unlikely to be able to afford to build enough dorm space for all of the frosh and sophomores, and even less likely to want to fight the tremendous political battle that a residency requirement would create.

    Beside which, who is the City to judge a "desirable" level of reinvestment? At least beyond actual blight? Would Boulder be better off without the students (and all of the folks they support)? I think not. Those functions have to be served. I remember returning to Madison 10 years or so after leaving grad school and finding that my favorite dive bar had been "re-vitalized" out of existence. We need to plan for all phases of life, and this is one of them.
    Amen to almost everything you say. Why are middle aged upper middle class people with FAMILIES the only worthwhile social group? Better to provide an interesting college neighborhood than house everyone in Soviet-style dorms. Heck, college ghettos can also provide cheap transitional housing, and the better ones can be more diverse than one would think. I lived in the University of Tennessee's Fort Loudon student slum (an accurate perjorative) in Knoxville for a short while after grad school. It was $120/month. Now, Knoxville had allowed certain basic health and safety issues to get out of hand (my rooming house had exposed wiring ), and the damn landlords of the student rooming would park their garbage dumpsters right next to the sidewalk (a fragrant pleasure during hot summer days). But, that's the fault of the City of Knoxville for not enforcing basic standards of decency.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    OK, but how about neighborhoods that are transitioning from owner-occupied to student-dominated? If these neighborhoods were not near a campus, and we saw the same disinvestment and rise in obnoxious behaviour, wouldn't we do something about it? If the retail was giving way to bars, and there were riots every few years, wouldn't we try to change that? It isn't that we are now looking for ways to keep students out, but we want to preserve a good environment for permanent residents and families, and maximize the value (social and monetary) of the commercial district. As with many of the examples offered so far, the university could have a role here.
    If you look at the history of universities, student riots and other town-gown conflicts are inevitable.

    Unless you want to disperse the students throughout the city and into dorms, concentrations of young people away from home for the first time will create issues.

    Are we going to use zoning to permit only "quality" restaurants and retail? Who defines this? Obviously, the student ghetto retail tenants are meeting a market niche or they wouldn't be locating there. Heck, I like cheap student ghetto food sometimes, too. Maybe we can use zoning to only allow bland national formula chain restaurants that cater only to middle class families! And, certainly no bars or tattoo parlors or funky bookstores run by anti-American commies and anarchists. And, no used clothing stores-we should only allow Gap! Or Old Navy-because that store seems to cater to families with children, the only worthwhile social group.

    I'm well past college age, but I still find some of the ideas in this thread pretty annoying.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Deed Restrictions

    If a city was that concerned, they would put their money where their mouths are and start paying current slum lord owners to sign deed restrictions that don't allow for subleasing or rental (all future sales) of obvious single family homes and condo units. Can't do much about apartment complexes other than support conversion to condo's and ownership....This and a little bit of zoning help....also massive code enforcement movement could help.....Bottom line is that Universities are not funded enough to provide all the housing.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    This isn't an anti-student effort. They are a viable market for housing in this area, but are there better ways to house them than to have disinterested landlords place too many people in a poorly-maintained house, where they act in ways that create problems for their neighbors? In my last job, also in a college town, we used the market to help answer the problem. By developing new multi-family housing which was attractive and offered amenities not available in the converted houses, we reduced demand and did see some of the worst landlords, unable to rent their houses, put them up for sale instead. This helped to open new affordable housing to families. We also saw a market for a different, more urban style of condominium targeted to new and retiring faculty who wanted to retain their ties to the campus. Neighborhoods with a diversity of people - retirees, families, and students - are desirable. Student ghettos are not.
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  22. #22

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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    This isn't an anti-student effort. They are a viable market for housing in this area, but are there better ways to house them than to have disinterested landlords place too many people in a poorly-maintained house, where they act in ways that create problems for their neighbors? In my last job, also in a college town, we used the market to help answer the problem. By developing new multi-family housing which was attractive and offered amenities not available in the converted houses, we reduced demand and did see some of the worst landlords, unable to rent their houses, put them up for sale instead. This helped to open new affordable housing to families. We also saw a market for a different, more urban style of condominium targeted to new and retiring faculty who wanted to retain their ties to the campus. Neighborhoods with a diversity of people - retirees, families, and students - are desirable. Student ghettos are not.
    Well, I still disagree with you vis-a-vis the commercial districts, but your post clarifies your intent and represents an ideal I can even acknowledge. Still, college is expensive, and often those overcrowded boarding houses represent a housing resource that new multifamily cannot touch for affordability (speaking frompersonal experience).

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    You know, I looked for this once before to post on Cyburbia and couldn't find it. Somewhere in The Deep South, an architect bought up cheap land and built a neighborhood of quirky, tiny little residential units for the students. It worked well and it was affordable for the students but a "trendy" neighborhood for them as well. I think one of the reasons that we end up with "student slums" is because we no longer have a good alternative residential form. Everything is built around some fairly standardized ideas about what a residence should look like and those ideas tend to be formatted on a single-family home standard. If you have no kids and you need unrelated roommates to help pay the rent, you have completely different space needs for a completely different lifestyle. (For that matter, what I expect to need as a single mom is substantially different from what worked well for us as a couple with kids.) We used to have a lot more SRO's and boarding houses, etc, and it was pretty normal for a young person to live in a situation like that when they were first starting out, regardless of whether they went to college or not.

    If I can find something about that neighborhood, I will post it.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Well, I still disagree with you vis-a-vis the commercial districts, but your post clarifies your intent and represents an ideal I can even acknowledge. Still, college is expensive, and often those overcrowded boarding houses represent a housing resource that new multifamily cannot touch for affordability (speaking frompersonal experience).
    agreeing, from personal experience...

    Those "nice" complexes cost about twice as much. give me the student ghetto anyday.

    In Knoxville in the Fort, I lived in a house that was split up into about 8 apts. I had a big one bedroom and paid $300. A friend of mine lived down the road (still in the Fort) in a new "nice" mutlifamily and paid $550 for her part of a 3 bedroom!

    Sure my downstairs neighbors had a chicken that tried to attact me evertime I walked by and sure the sink was leaky...but at least it was cheap! and walking distance to class!!! and walking distance to the store!!! and walking distance to chaep greasy rests.!!!! and walking distance to bars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and walking distance to most of my friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I could easily go for a week and never get in the car...basically I used it to go grocery shopping and out of town to see the pre-Mrs. H.
    Last edited by H; 14 Oct 2004 at 6:02 PM.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    You know, I looked for this once before to post on Cyburbia and couldn't find it. Somewhere in The Deep South, an architect bought up cheap land and built a neighborhood of quirky, tiny little residential units for the students. It worked well and it was affordable for the students but a "trendy" neighborhood for them as well. I think one of the reasons that we end up with "student slums" is because we no longer have a good alternative residential form. Everything is built around some fairly standardized ideas about what a residence should look like and those ideas tend to be formatted on a single-family home standard. If you have no kids and you need unrelated roommates to help pay the rent, you have completely different space needs for a completely different lifestyle. (For that matter, what I expect to need as a single mom is substantially different from what worked well for us as a couple with kids.) We used to have a lot more SRO's and boarding houses, etc, and it was pretty normal for a young person to live in a situation like that when they were first starting out, regardless of whether they went to college or not.

    If I can find something about that neighborhood, I will post it.
    It's Starkville, Mississippi. The builder, a local cotnractor, is a true "planning hero" in my mind, far more than the consultants rewarded for yet another master plan (or staff planners like myself).

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