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torgo

Student Housing Downtown

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I think there is an untapped market for all the college students that come downtown every day. What do you all think? It doesn't sound like GVSU is overflowing at Secchia or Winter Hall, so maybe I am mistaken. Would downtown student apartments be a boom or bust?

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American Seating has a waiting list don't they? And weren't there college kids in Boardwalk too?

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Yes, American seating is almost 100% college students. Boardwalk is a mixture, and I know a few people living at the globe. I think there is a huge market, but pricing of these "urban" living spaces tends to be out of the reach of many self-supporting college students unless the development is in a zone that offers tax incentives.

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What do students from UofM do? I Ann Arbor is a much more expensive town than Grand Rapids, how do those students afford apartments?

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Ann Arbor seems to have either dingy campus apartments or dingy houses that are converted into apartments. I have several friends that went to UM and I never saw any newer apartments that were nice. I also never thought of Ann Arbor as a true urban setting, even though there are a few government buildings scattered around the campus.

That is my take on student living in AA, correct if I am mistaken.

I wonder where a young professional (20 something crowd) would live, if they wanted to be in Ann Arbor?

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This is the million dollar answer, right? Attracting and retaining young people downtown.

I really wish there would be a bigger variety of quick-cheap eats downtown. Something that is quick but also different than hotdogs. Hotdogs are great but I can't eat them more than once every two weeks. I am thinking of a more ethnic representation; Vietnamese, Greek, etc. Essentially our own little International District.

I am familiar with these types of restaurants in Ann Arbor and Seattle. A place where you can get good food that is inexpensive and quick. A perfect example of what I am trying to explain is Olive Express downtown. Excellent food, inexpensive and quick! Now if there was a Dim Sum, Vietnamese Pho and Greek Gyro place downtown in the same manner...that would be great.

Cities such as the University district in Seattle and Ann Arbor promote this spontaneous and mobile foot traffic culture. In Seattle, I had my favorite little Vietnamese stand that served big bowls of delicious soup (Pho) for $3.95. One could sit down at a small bar, eat and could be out the door in about 20 minutes. I would then walk 1/2 a block and catch the bus home.

I am no longer a student but I still eat out a lot:)

In summary: I believe offering this type of dining culture would help keep students and busy professionals downtown more often and thus support the type of housing described in this post. We can have our $300k condos, very nice restaurants such as The Chop House but there also needs to be a quality alternative.

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I have to agree it is a little difficult for younger people like me to get to live downtown (especially if you want your own place) some of the prices are ridiculous to me and even after college I think I would just rather make house payments for the same amount instead of wasting my money on an apartment. If I was eager enough (and hopefully had enough money after college with a good job in this dry market) I would get a condo...

I think if you want to attract more students and the 20-somethings, there needs to be more affordable housing. Most people I know live in kentwood because of the more affordable housing and all the retail and restaurants.

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One thing I have always wondered is why developers have not taken advantage of the huge student population that exist in GR. You have GVSU, Kendal/FSU, WMU, MSU, Calvin, Davenport, Cooley law school, MSU medical school, and GRCC packed with students. I am sure that most of these guys would love to avoid the need to drive from far out to class every day. So why hasnt their been a building boom for small apartments in and around the downtown area? I know the HOT thing right now is expensive condos, but this has to be a huge market that is, for now, almost totaly ignored. They dont need exposed brick walls or the latest "urban chic" design. Most just need an inexpensive place to sleep and store their stuff. Many of them will be out and about all day anyway. (Foot Traffic. Which is what retailers would like to see before they set up shop DT). Just think of thousands of young people, who would live most of their lives DT. GR would, in an instant, become a 24-hour city. If what's keeping this back is a matter of money, maybe the city/state can offer tax credits for developers that construct housing that is suited for students, singles, and younger people.

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What do students from UofM do? I Ann Arbor is a much more expensive town than Grand Rapids, how do those students afford apartments?

Most of the kids at U of M can just call mommy and daddy for cash when they need it.

It's not a real people type of place, so the normal problems college kids have are pretty much non existant.

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Grand Valley ought to possibly look at buying the property and some homes around the downtown campus. It would provide an alternative to dorm living but would still be under University control so if need be the school could put their foot down and ensure that the buildings and its tenants are up to snuff. This is something I've always thought Western really ought to look at doing down in Kalamazoo in the Student ghetto at the bottom of the hill from east campus.

Even though it will never happen, I would love to see GVSU consolidate most of its facilities downtown. One feels more collegiant in an urban setting like that rather than the Allendale campus out in the corn fields.

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Rockford Construction set up the top few floors of the Commerce Building behind the Kent County Courthouse to be used as student housing for Kendall students. Something like 24 or so apartments. Not sure if they have filled them yet, but it wasn't a sellout from the start.

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Although I think it's great to have college students living downtown, it should be very limited IMO. Most college students cannot afford very high rent, and most won't buy property in an area, and it becomes too top-heavy on the rental side (see any student ghetto around MSU, UofM, Western, Ohio State, etc.. Rental properties aren't usually maintained nearly as nicely as a homeowner takes care of his/her own home.

Another downside is that college students generally pack up and leave from mid-May through Labor Day, leaving retail areas dead for that period when they should be the most vibrant with warm-weather foot-traffic and sidewalk seating. College students definitely add to a 24 hour downtown, and can bring some much needed eclectic retailers though. College students in moderation I say (hopefully none of you college students take offense). :)

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diversify Diversify DIVERSIFY :) Makes sense. But one question, college kids like to party? Wouldn't this be the end to chicken and egg for places to go downtown? You have investors and buisiness people who notice the influx of college students, and market accordingly... That would inturn give the tourists places to go and keeping the ball rolling while the students are out for the summer months. Eventualy, you might even have some of thoes kids staying back and using downtown to recreate...of course after they see how powerful a demographic they are. Could this be one of the stimulants we might be looking for?

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Another downside is that college students generally pack up and leave from mid-May through Labor Day, leaving retail areas dead for that period when they should be the most vibrant with warm-weather foot-traffic and sidewalk seating. College students definitely add to a 24 hour downtown, and can bring some much needed eclectic retailers though. College students in moderation I say (hopefully none of you college students take offense). :)

I have to disagree with you here. While it's true that college kids leave in the summer months, I think that it's mainly the younger freshman/sophomore students that leave. Classes downtown are mostly for older students and generally they tend to stay and take summer classes. That's how it went while I was here at least and it was the same for all my friends. Also, I feel that a majority of the college population at Grand Valley want to live downtown even if they don't have classes there.

The problem with the GVSU dorms downtown comes from that same fact. It's older students that are downtown all the time and they don't want to live in a dorm anymore. They want some freedom to have their own place.

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I dont think the high price is neccesarily a big deal. The kids who live in 2 or 3 bedroom apartments in Allendale pay 900 or more a month (many pay over $1000), but they split up the cost three or four ways. What would end up being a problem downtown, now that I think about it, is that I think the City only allows 2 cars per apartment unit. So if there are four people living there, only 2 can have cars.

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What do students from UofM do? I Ann Arbor is a much more expensive town than Grand Rapids, how do those students afford apartments?
It would be hard to compare the two, in the sense that U of M's central campus is a very organic urban place. There is a "patchwork quilt" of uses and building types sprinkled through the fabric. There are university buildings, retail, restaurants, bars, office and various types of housing all mixed together. In addition to that it is a very, very walkable place. This is mainly because the university and the city developed concurrently and grew up together, rather than having the university be "placed", similar to that of the north campus of the U of M.

Most of the kids at U of M can just call mommy and daddy for cash when they need it.

This may be true because of the many East Coasters who are students, but I can attest that when I was there in the early 90s, cash was tight and in fact I worked while going to graduate school.

Ann Arbor seems to have either dingy campus apartments or dingy houses that are converted into apartments. I have several friends that went to UM and I never saw any newer apartments that were nice. I also never thought of Ann Arbor as a true urban setting, even though there are a few government buildings scattered around the campus.

I agree, Ann Arbor is dingy, but I would prefer the term gritty. Gritty is what we want an urban place to be. The problem with so many of the New Urbanist places, is that they lack the grittiness of real urban settings. This patina is one more thing that makes the urbanism credible. I would say that Ann Arbor is urban, probably more so than Grand Rapids, at this point in time.

As far as the local condition, I say continue to insert the university into the fabric gently, so as not to tear down the whole West Fulton area. It would be wonderful for the city of Grand Rapids to have a major campus within its limits, which would absolutely allow for a more 24-hour vibrant city.

It would also be great to create some more student housing within this area, it appears that there continues to be demand for it.

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I don't think GVSU has any immediate plans to grow any further into downtown, other than what they already have in place or in motion. When I was in the process of transfering from GRCC, I asked the lady in the admissions office about it. She said, the university didn't plan on expanding much more into downtown, because of the good relationship they had with the Community College, and she said, further expansion could damage that relationship. It could be all toungue and cheek. It's only word of mouth.

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