Posted: Mar 2, 2011, 4:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
A real luxury
Proposed student apartments will be furnished 'upper class' suites
November 24, 2010
By Monica Blaylock
Tanning beds, a lounge and bar, a rooftop patio with a fireplace, a 24-hour gym — the Western stereotype just died and went to heaven.
On Monday night, Abode Varsity Living held a neighbourhood open house to gain feedback from the community about their proposed luxury student apartment building, set to be built on Richmond Street, north of campus main gates.
The apartment building would house upper-year students in fully furnished, two-bedroom apartments with luxury amenities.
“The neighborhood was more optimistic about this than I’d seen in almost any other project,” Nancy Branscombe, Ward 6 councillor for the city of London, said.
“It will help relieve some of the pressure by taking some students out of the areas where they are now, and obviously that’s part of the ongoing issues that we have [with student housing],” she continued, referring to the problem of overpopulated student neighbourhoods that often gather noise complaints and attract the attention of London police.
However, hopes that the new building will relieve pressure from student areas might be jumping the gun, according to some students at the meeting.
The cost of luxury living will likely be too high for most students who currently reside in the student housing areas around campus, according to Brandon Sousa, external affairs co-ordinator for the University Students’ Council .
“If students want to live there, they better hope their OSAP pays up. No way this rent is going to be any cheaper than 800 bucks a student,” Sousa said.
“It’s tailoring to a very small, select market of upper-class students — the ones who don’t have to worry about tuition or student loans,” Sousa continued. He noted a building with such niche clientele could risk reinforcing Western’s image as a well-to-do party school.
Sousa noted a spokesperson for the building’s development could not reveal the rental prices per unit at the town hall, but told members of the USC to look at other luxury student housing in the area for sample pricing.
Pat Searle, municipal affairs commissioner for the USC, noted Western is already struggling to find affordable housing near campus for students. He said a luxury apartment might make that worse.
“Is there really that big of a demand for this type of housing?” Searle said.
“I know there’s a demand for housing near campus, but is it right that they specialize in luxury apartments when [the USC] is concerned with finding students affordable housing?” Searle continued.
Branscombe said the new building likely won’t be geared toward first-year students.
“They’re looking to attract upper year students, which I’m not sure can be guaranteed, even with all the fancy trimmings,” she said.
She also said the town hall meeting brought some new ideas for how to develop the space, including a taxi stand so cabs wouldn’t have to turn around on Richmond Street.
“The developers are going to look at some of the good suggestions coming out of the meeting,” she said. “It was generally well-received.”
Abode Varsity Living is in the process of building two other luxury apartments — one near Wilfred Laurier University and Waterloo University, and the other near Guelph University. They could not be reached for comment by press time.
“They do own the land, and it’s pre-zoned for a high-density residential. So they can build an apartment building there already,” Branscombe said of the London location.