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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    This or That: Mini-dorms — intrusive or ingenious?

    This or That is a weekly feature in which members of the Perspectives staff weigh in on a campus-related topic and issue their final verdict from two options. This week’s question is “Mini-dorms — intrusive of ingenious?” The term “mini-dorm” applies to housing that is either built or renovated to accommodate several students. Residents of the surrounding UA community have lobbied against mini-dorms, while developers and landlords defend their housing structures by stating that they adhere to building code and therefore have just as much right to be there. There is no denying the profit to be made from the increased occupancy in homes but many longtime residents are uncomfortable in their own neighborhoods.

    Kristina Bui

    Verdict: Intrusive

    The “mini-dorm” controversy continues as university area neighborhoods battle it out with developers to avoid being saddled with invasive college kid neighbors. But in the end, everything boils down to money anyway.

    An analysis by 24/7 Wall St. awarded Tucson the title of “America’s sickest housing market.” The analysis, performed in August, examined 75 U.S. metropolitan areas and ranked the cities with the highest vacancy rates. The rankings were determined by U.S. Census Bureau data, unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and historical median home prices provided by the National Association of Realtors. Tucson has a 15.9 percent rental vacancy rate.

    Mini-dorms are an irritating intrusion, but not because of their tenants. The idea that students are noisy, messy neighbors is beside the point. That’s the price you pay when you live near a college campus and students are capable of making noise and messes in any kind of house, small or large. But given the incredibly high rental vacancy rate and the annual rise of tuition and fees, it’s worth questioning how high the demand for mini-dorms is anymore. If new mini-dorms don’t fill up, most neighborhoods will be left with empty, oversized houses that don’t suit their surroundings.

    Jacquelyn Abad

    Verdict: Intrusive

    The destruction of old Tucson homes makes way for new “mini-dorms” in several Tucson neighborhoods, such as Jefferson Park, Feldman, El Rio and Palo Verde. This form of off-campus housing has reasonably disturbed many Tucsonans. Developers are tearing down historical elements of Tucson in order to accommodate college students looking for a nearby place to live. With UA students invading local Tucson neighborhoods, they have become intrusive to the community.

    Small homes made for five people have been packed with ten and seem out of place in a residential neighborhood designed for small families. Students can get pretty noisy, and it’s understandable if nearby residents are getting fed up with the college lifestyle of partying and drinking.

    Mini-dorms devalue the sense of community for those who actually live in the neighborhood year-round. No sane individual is going to want to reside next to a mini-dorm, where the inhabitants are throwing loud parties every Friday and Saturday night. UA students should stay out of neighborhoods with families and relocate to on-campus or apartment housing.

    Michelle A. Monroe

    Verdict: Intrusive

    Real estate companies who build these mini-dorms are evil geniuses. They’re genius in the sense that they’re playing off a housing market that will always be there. They’re evil in the fact that they are dropping the value of the surrounding homes by doing so.

    Most of the homes in the surrounding university area communities are single story and hold single families. Mini-dorms tend to be two stories and cram anywhere between five and 10 students into a house. These houses can also have balconies that overlook neighboring backyards. No one wants to have 10 students looking into their backyard seven days a week. And no one wants to look up at a dirty couch and beer cans while lying out in their backyard.

    Many people confuse hating mini-dorms with hating living next to students. Well, you can complain about students all you want, but you live next to a university. Mini-dorms are large, brightly colored, houses that stick out like a sore thumb. Homeowners have a right to like their view and the feel of the neighborhood. Mini-dorm companies are screwing that up for the university communities.

    Kelly Hultgren

    Verdict: Ingenious

    Mini-dorms are ingenious, because they’re profitable for lessors and cheap for college students. Opposition to mini-dorms sprouted last year in the Jefferson Park, and now the Sam Hughes neighborhood is on the horizon. When looking at Sam Hughes and its proximity to campus, it’s brilliant for neighborhood residents to offer their relatively small two-bedroom houses to four or five college students. It makes even more sense to build large occupancy homes. The lessors can increase the monthly rent because of their location and because it’s a “house,” not an “apartment.”

    That “house” classification will come with a higher price, even though the actual personal living space might be the size of an apartment. For example, there is currently a two-bedroom house for rent on Craigslist in Sam Hughes for $1,200 per month. Comparatively, Cottonwood Creek apartments located on the eastern outskirts of Sam Hughes, offers a two bed, two-bathroom apartment starting at $869 per month.

    From a student’s perspective, more roommates means the less rent per person. And the convenience of being walking-distance from campus also saves money on transportation. If apartment complexes put limits on the number of people students can cram into the two-bedroom apartment, then it’s a more economical to grab some friends, go the mini-dorm route and get the house.

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