When news broke that bars along University Avenue across from campus would be torn down to make room for new luxury apartments, most students weren’t happy. While some may have been upset about the loss of their favorite gameday hangout spots, many were frustrated with what would be replacing the storefronts.
Luxury apartments are nothing new to the Gainesville area. At least seven luxury apartment complexes have been built since 2009, and by 2020 there will be six more built. One of the most well-known luxury apartments is The Standard, a 10-story building across from campus. The monthly rental prices here are $650 to $1,200. Other local luxury apartments range from $790 per bedroom at a four-bedroom in Sabal Palms, $842 per bedroom at a two-bedroom in Stratford Court and $1289 a month for a one-bedroom at Ashton Lane.
These prices are fairly steep, even for middle-class families. Many students will look for more affordable housing options. While there are options out there, there is one common theme among them: they’re old. With older buildings come many problems. Students have experienced things such as water shooting from their toilet and a roof collapsing.
Anecdotally, things friends and I have experienced living in older apartments include rats, mold, hot water not working for over a week and pipes bursting.
You can argue you get what you pay for and yes, to a certain degree, that’s true. However, students, like myself, who can’t afford to live in new luxury apartments only have so many affordable options when living in Gainesville. Students are forced into a position where they have to live somewhere they know will have problems because they simply can’t afford luxury.
There are very few apartments in Gainesville I would consider “middle-of-the-road” when it comes to affordability and quality of housing. This leaves most students living in either of the two extremes: luxury or subpar housing.
So this all brings me back to the new luxury apartments being built along University Avenue. While creating new housing options close to campus is great, they don’t need to be luxury apartments. There is simply no demand for it.
908 Group announced their plans to build student apartments right across the street from UF campus. They will demolish properties including the Swamp Restaurant, the Post Office and other surrounding businesses in January 2020. Here is the development plan. @WUFTNews pic.twitter.com/ysqRNNiVCG
— Hannah Peery (@HannahPeery) April 16, 2019
Cool, come see our (mostly vacant) similar development in Oxford. 3 floors of subpar overpriced apartments and ground level...vacant builidngs.
— kevin (@Kfilament) April 17, 2019
— Thicc Foles (@ufslide) April 17, 2019
Just what Gainesville needs, more luxury apartments for college kids. Yay capitalism!
— LEE ? (@LTCGATOR) April 17, 2019
Ultimately, building more luxury apartments is great -- if you're a student who comes from a high-income household. You get more options to choose from, most of which will be way beyond your needs as a college student. But this leaves middle- and low-income students with a smaller range of options. Few, if any, affordable housing options are being built in the near future, resulting in many students staying in apartment complexes that are only getting older and more rundown over time.
Cassidy Hopson is a UF journalism junior. Her column appears on Thursdays.