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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Student develops mini-dorm

One UA student has a special interest in the ongoing Jefferson Park housing controversy — it could affect his business.

Regional development sophomore Zach Channing is not only a Jefferson Park resident, he’s also a Jefferson Park developer. Channing is building a mini-dorm on Euclid Avenue and said the decisions made by the city in recent months regarding housing and development could affect his hopes to build more.

The debate between Jefferson Park residents and developers has spanned nearly a decade as existing homes were torn down and replaced by multiple-bedroom mini-dorms that typically house students. The conflict has peaked in recent months with the Tucson City Council’s preliminary approval of a restrictive development manual and the decision by the zoning administrator finding unrelated people living together in some mini-dorms to be in violation of the city’s zoning code.

“”It’s going to be harmful to any future development,”” said Channing about the decisions. “”I think it’s going to spread to other neighborhoods.””

Channing comes from a family of real estate developers in Southern Florida and said his grandfather agreed to back this project, his first investment. Channing launched ZDC Properties LLC with his venture in Jefferson Park.

“”That’s where the kids want to live,”” Channing said. “”There is such a need right now.””

Channing said he was not aware of the housing controversy when he demolished a house in October to build a seven-bedroom mini-dorm. He hired a contractor and an architect to begin the construction in January.

“”I didn’t really know until I started building a house,”” he said. “”I got right in the middle of it.””

His development was not affected by the manual limiting construction and renovation in areas such as house size, height and architectural style, which is still in the process of being approved. The Tucson City Council gave preliminary approval for the neighborhood’s recommendations over less stringent suggestions from developers and City of Tucson staff in February.

“”My biggest worry is the future,”” Channing said.

The size of houses would be restricted under the manual, which would deter students who want to live with their friends, Channing said. He said the student housing market is much more dependable than his father’s work in commercial development and is something he wants to continue working in.

“”I love the market,”” Channing said. “”The market is something that’s never going to go away.””

Channing has already leased the house, which will be completed by next semester, to seven women, but still receives several calls each week from people interested in living there. Though residents are concerned about the changing face of their neighborhood, demand for student housing is high, he said.

“”You can’t be doing that,”” Channing said. “”You’ve got to let us live there.””

Students are not aware of the housing decisions being made, said Channing, who has been in contact with the group Student Housing & Student Rights. The organization has a Facebook page asking people to sign a petition against the ruling and write letters to the council.

About 165 people have “”liked”” the page.

“”Nobody has any idea,”” Channing said. “”They have no idea. If I wasn’t developing, I would have no idea.””

Channing said he plans on continuing to develop properties in Tucson until he graduates in 2013 and hopes the decisions do not affect his investments.

“”I’m just trying to get my company started,”” Channing said. “”This is really holding me back.””

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