Houses fall, condos rise in student area

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    By Amy Gorgueiro

    The giant tractors” monotonous sounds echo between the buildings, as they tear down buildings and dig deep into the ground. Passersby may think they are in a booming metropolis, but they must guess again. They walk the streets south of BYU”s campus.

    Students living south of BYU have more to worry about than their loud roommates. They now must get used to their new neighbors – construction crews tearing down old houses and constructing large apartment complexes and condominiums.

    Dan Laing, deputy director of Provo”s housing authority, said students are “witnessing the natural progression of a rapidly growing urban community.” The tearing down of housing to build more units on the lot is a “scramble to provide enough housing.”

    Lori Liljenquist, a realtor with Century 21, said that with all the building going on, students will see more vacancies with more housing options to choose from.

    Kevin Callahan, assistant director of community development in Provo, said there is a battle for an identity of the neighborhood south of campus.

    City officials plan to keep the area between BYU campus and 500 North a student and multi-family rental area, Callahan said. However, the city is hoping for a change in the area south of 500 North.

    The city is hoping to preserve the old, historic housing by encouraging the area to be more than just student housing, but instead to become more of a family neighborhood, Callahan said.

    One of the biggest struggles the city has is in bringing more ownership into the city. The city is concerned about the home ownership rate at 32 percent. In a college community, Callahan said home ownership tends to be in the high 30 to low 40 percent range.

    Only about 10 percent of Provo housing is owned by the occupant.

    Even though the housing is getting old, Callahan said the demand remains high, which makes it expensive to buy in the area south of BYU.

    Liljenquist said Provo is especially attractive to buyers because of the close proximity to BYU. Because BYU will never leave Provo, Liljenquist said owners know there will always be a demand for housing around campus.

    BYU standards also create a ripe environment for out-of-state owners. Owners are safe to assume that their housing will be well taken care of by the students who have to abide by BYU”s housing standards, Liljenquist said.

    Although most students are not worried about the home-ownership problems, they do have to worry about the noise created by new construction. Tina Kenworthy, 20, from St. George, Washington County, majoring in computer science, lives by a construction area north of 500 North.

    Kenworthy said she has gotten used to the construction sounds outside her window. A few months ago, construction crews tore up the adjacent house and her apartment complex”s parking lot in order to build more apartments.

    Aside from having to find a new place to park her car, Kenworthy seems approving of the scenery change from her front door. She said the house torn down to build the new complex was “a dump.”

    Kurt Nelson, son of the owner of the property next to Kenworthy, said building new housing is a great investment. The family-owned property will soon be home to an apartment complex complete with a two-level parking facility.

    Nelson said the run-down housing south of campus does not have a family-type feel with 10 students in many of the small homes and cars parked on the front lawns. When looking at the housing that surrounds the new complex, Nelson said, “The value of the property goes down when no one else takes care of their stuff.”

    Nelson said the new complexes would benefit the area in the long run.

    Kenworthy said she believes apartments are better than houses because they can accommodate more students.

    However, students living in the houses before they are torn down have to deal with another issue – finding a new place to live.

    Kenworthy said the students who lived in the house by her were forced to move.

    John Pace, manager of Off-Campus Housing, said that if property is sold, the new owner of must honor the existing contract the tenants have signed.

    Liljenquist said she thinks the new housing will be better for students because it will create newer BYU-approved housing.

    Justin Hogge, an aviation science major attending UVSC, said he thinks it is good that Provo is building new housing to get rid of the old, run-down housing.

    Although Hogge said he believes building new housing is generally good for the community, he is worried the rent prices will go up for students.

    In order to avoid these high rents, Hogge said he thinks people will opt to live in Springville and American Fork because they won”t be able to afford the prices the condos and apartments will charge in Provo.

    However, Liljenquist said she has heard that the rent will be staying the same while the students will be able to find better places to live.

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