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April 14, 2014

Student housing stirred unrest in 1970s


Undeterred, Daniel Ferris re-applied for a building permit, but under a different company name, Off-Campus Housing Corp. This revised $322,000 complex called for 43 units, it was reported on May 24. Immediate opposition resumed by the neighbors of that area.

This time around Ferris was somewhat more successful, as he was issued half a building permit to construct the water, sewer, storm sewer, streets and parking lots on the site. Actual work on this part of the project began in the middle of December.

Some trees were cut down, but some were replanted, City Engineer John Buck said on Dec. 27. “It’s going to be quite a view from up there when it is completed,” he added.

That’s about as far as the project got, as the Star reported on June 27, 1975 that the apartments wouldn’t be constructed for at least another year. Daniel Ferris explained that the “general economic conditions were to blame for the delay, not the opposition of the neighbors.”

While this delay was on, Oneonta’s Capital Budget and Planning Commission worked to amend a zoning ordinance that could prohibit construction of the apartments.

By September 1975, plans to build the complex had been reportedly dropped. However the plans were on again by June 1976. Ferris’ building permit was renewed and work could begin at any time. Work never resumed and the permit expired in December, but was renewed under a new, tougher zoning ordinance.

The on-again, off-again status of the project finally came to a close, as the Star reported on Sept. 10, 1979, “Inflated construction costs and high interest rates have put an end to plans … the developer said Thursday.”

This weekend: Spring finally arrived in Oneonta in 1889.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

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