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Opinion

February 18, 2013

Need for college apartments isn't clear

Need for college apartments isn’t clear

Your recent article regarding the proposed Blodgett Drive apartment complex quotes one council member as saying that the Newman development group gave a really good, exciting presentation. Any sales presentation, however, needs to be viewed with scrutiny.

Newman’s representative purported a need for additional student housing in Oneonta, including the ‘‘fact’’ that there are 100 two-person dorm rooms with three people crammed into them, that SUNY plans to increase enrollment, and that a study showed considerable additional housing needed.

According to campus officials, however, no such overcrowding exists. In fact, there are vacancies in the dorms right now, and SUNY plans no significant growth over the next decade. Furthermore, no requests for apartment information were received from the 225 transfer students entering this semester. There are many vacancies off campus, and 80-plus vacant houses in the city.

I hope that in their zeal to prevent students from living in town, and to put “bad” landlords out of business, city officials don’t overlook facts or ignore basic logic. A new high-end housing complex will not hurt “bad” landlords. Instead, this would compete directly with existing high-quality rentals. Less expensive, poorly maintained housing (more likely to become “party houses”) would still be needed by those whose budgets don’t permit higher rents. If low rents get lower, rents and maintenance will spiral downward together.

Regardless of which landlords are hurt, the result for all homeowners in Oneonta would be a decrease in their property values. As rental income from any property decreases, so does its value. When the value of one property drops, so does the value of neighboring properties. Given the number of rental properties in center city, we can anticipate a serious decline in property values in one of the nicest parts of town.

Michael Stolzer

Oneonta

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