Luxury student apartment complexes could do more harm than good | Opinions

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Blacksburg luxury apartments are popping up all over the place. Newly opened last fall, the Union apartment complex offers “luxury living moments away from Virginia Tech,” according to the Union Apartments YouTube channel. There are several other examples of complexes around Blacksburg, such as the Park 37 apartment complex and the Vue Apartment complex. However, with constantly rising rental costs and an increase in luxury resorts popping up in Blacksburg, these properties may not be the best fit for students.

There is no denying that the luxury student accommodation industry is an extremely lucrative and increasingly popular option for student residents who can afford it. These properties offer plenty of amenities such as smart home features, fast internet speeds, built-in appliances, surround sound speakers and more. According to a Bloomberg article, this industry is extremely successful in attracting upper-class parents who aim to provide a safer community for their children.

In a 2021 Buffalo News article, “Over the past 20 to 30 years, student housing has increasingly become one of the most attractive areas of real estate development and investment, with tens of billions dollars invested in the development and acquisition of these properties nationwide. ”

Virginia Tech is no exception to this trend of privatized luxury student housing. However, the rise of luxury student complexes is hampering options for students looking for affordable apartments.

Josh Long, a junior studying environmental conservation and society, shares that rising rental costs were the main reason he stayed with his parents and went to school.

“(Real estate companies) should focus on building more affordable housing,” Long said.

This phenomenon is also at the origin of an ever-widening divide between socio-economic classes. In an article in the Hechinger Report, Andrew Ryder, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina, argues that the rise in luxury student life is actually detrimental to the student society that colleges are aiming for. to be.

“We’re recreating socially stratified communities on campus instead of giving students the opportunity to live among people from different backgrounds,” Ryder said.

Even though Virginia Tech doesn’t primarily struggle with stratified communities because Blacksburg is a small college town where everyone is forced to interact, there are still negative effects of luxury resorts taking over land in Blacksburg. One of the effects that students looking for economical options face is the increasingly remote and/or old complexes to which they are relegated.

Giridhar Ganta, a junior computer science student, shares his perspective on students looking for affordable housing options.

“I think unintentionally there’s a zoning effect in the rental market, which forces students on a budget to stick to a few more economical apartments,” Ganta said.

These cheaper options are usually found further and further away from Blacksburg as more luxury student accommodation is built close to campus, which also drives up rental costs in Christiansburg. This leads to transportation problems, as economical options are pushed to Christiansburg.

The rise in more expensive student apartments is a welcome addition for students and parents who can afford them, as they provide a more comfortable lifestyle. There is no denying that luxury student accommodation is a booming industry as more and more middle to upper class families are also turning to these options. However, due to the possible stratification of communities and economic options being pushed out of the city, these luxury resorts can do more harm than good.

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