Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Housing developments on the rise, task force to gather data

With enrollment growing every year at The University of Alabama, so too does the student housing market. Alongside new business developments in the downtown and McFarland Boulevard areas, new student housing developments have cropped up across town. In response to the growth in these new housing developments, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox issued an executive order to form a student housing task force.

“The recent boom of new student housing developments has produced a great deal of questions and concerns from all corners of our community,” Maddox said in a press release accompanying the executive order. “It’s critical the city receive and review comprehensive data and input from experts to examine it thoroughly.”

Deidre Stalnaker, communications director for the city of Tuscaloosa, said city officials are concerned that the growth in housing developments will be unsustainable in the future. While student enrollment at The University of Alabama has grown in recent years, city officials worry that enrollment might dip in the future.

“We just want to make sure that we can sustain those developments,” Stalnaker said. “There’s sort of a roller coaster, usually, with universities and enrollment, sort of these peaks and valleys. Right now, we’re at a peak. It could keep going. But at some point, it’s going to level off, and it could even dip.”

Julie Elmore, assistant director of off-campus and greek housing at The University of Alabama’s division of housing and residential communities, said the task force could address the concern that housing developments are being permitted without regard to the current and future housing supply in Tuscaloosa.

“I think the perception some people may have is that Tuscaloosa is building more and more student housing without considering the current supply and properties that have not broken ground yet,” Elmore said.

What the city wants to avoid, said Stalnaker, is having too many vacant buildings around Tuscaloosa’s neighborhoods.

“The risk is that the market becomes oversaturated with student housing, and when there’s not people there who can rent it, it becomes a vacant building, which is not good for the person running it. It’s not good for the neighborhood,” Stalnaker said.

Elmore said she does not know what the future holds for the enrollment numbers for The University of Alabama, Stillman College or Shelton State.

While the task force will primarily be looking at the growth in new developments, some students are concerned that existing student housing complexes are not being given the attention they deserve. Brian Collin, a Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology at the University, said he has found black mold in his home at Point-o-View Apartments on Jack Warner Parkway.

“It’s disgusting,” Collin said. “I found mold pretty much everywhere. All around the kitchen, on the walls, on the window sill. Pretty much everywhere.”

Collin, who is allergic to mold, said he and other tenants have experienced poor health because of the conditions at his apartment building.

“I’ve been sick in the past year more often than I had been in my entire life,” Collin said. “Pretty much everyone in this unit has been getting sick.”

Collin said Point-o-View’s the management, which is owned by Pritchett-Moore Rentals, has refused to address his concerns.

“[The landlord] basically told me he wasn’t going to clean the place up,” Collin said. “I was pretty upset about it.”

A representative of Pritchett-Moore Rentals declined to comment on Collin’s case.

While the details of the task force’s membership and schedule have not been finalized, the mayor requested in his executive order that their findings be presented to him no later than Nov. 5.

“No timeline really has been established for that,” Stalnaker said. “I know the mayor is asking for the findings and recommendations to be presented on Nov. 5, so they’ll just have to work back from that.”

Stalnaker said the task force’s findings will not have a direct policy impact, but will primarily be used to inform decisions by the mayor and city council on housing developments in the future.

“This is just to serve as a research project that [city council] can use when deciding on these proposed developments,” Stalnaker said.

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