College Park Town­houses feature modern kitchens | Carmel Kookogey

As Feb­ruary draws to a close, Hillsdale is still adjusting to the mul­titude of changes brought to campus last year. If one were to describe life in the Dale in 2018 with one word, that word would most likely be: “con­struction.” The past twelve months saw the erection of Christ Chapel, the com­pletion of the still unnamed new dorm, the ren­o­vation of Gal­loway res­i­dence hall and the com­pletion of the classy College Park Town­houses. While all of this com­motion affected life on campus, not all of the ven­tures have been appre­ciated by members of the college com­munity.

For example, stu­dents living in the appro­pri­ately nick­named “New Dorm” are happy with the college’s latest accom­mo­da­tions, citing the prime location, in-house coffee shop, and brand-new rooms. Sim­i­larly, campus is abuzz with excitement for the com­pletion of Christ Chapel, the largest and most expensive of the many addi­tions being made to Hillsdale College’s campus. Unfor­tu­nately, not all of the real-estate invest­ments aimed at Hillsdale stu­dents have been quite as well-received.

The College Park Town­houses at the corner of West Street and College Street created quite a stir throughout the com­munity when they were announced. The luxury apart­ments boasted security, privacy, con­ve­nience, and the perk of being fully fur­nished and move-in ready. Upon first glance, it seemed inevitable that these would become some of the most popular off-campus student housing options available. As it turns out, however, the perks do not come cheap, with the sticker price of a single room starting at $850 a month — and that’s to share the space with at least four other people. If you want your own space you better be pre­pared to shell out $1,250 a month for one bedroom and one bathroom in a town­house.

Not many Hillsdale res­i­dents are looking for a five bedroom, five bathroom town­house that would run more than twice the cost of any other living arrange­ments cur­rently available. While the town­homes are spec­tacular, they are excessive. Their opu­lence and con­se­quential price are the primary reason fewer than 25 percent of their rooms have been filled. As for those that have been rented, they are filled by donors or friends of the college rather than stu­dents as the devel­opers ini­tially intended. Few stu­dents are willing or able to pay for granite coun­tertops, stainless steel appli­ances, or wood floors for their college years, espe­cially when so many other quality options are available at half the cost.

One only needs to look to the apart­ments at 42 Union Street to under­stand where the demand for housing really lies. Since their com­pletion in 2016, every unit has been filled, mostly by college stu­dents. Like the town­houses, these new apart­ments also offer new appli­ances, spa­cious rooms, and ample common living spaces — but without the exor­bitant price tag. A three bedroom, one bathroom unit at 42 Union costs only $2,375 a semester — less than half the cost per person of living in the College Park Town­houses. While the commute to campus is a few blocks longer, 42 Union makes up for it with a popular coffee shop and study spot in its lobby.

Hillsdale stu­dents yearn for better off-campus living options. While grad­uates like to boast about the squalor in the dorms they lived in while in college, stu­dents prefer newly ren­o­vated houses or mod­ernized apart­ments. To fill this need, new devel­opers should look to flour­ishing 42 Union and not the empty town­houses as a tem­plate to follow.

As Hillsdale College seeks to update its facil­ities, private devel­opers in the com­munity are attempting to do the same. It is evident, however, that only some of these entre­pre­neurs truly know their market. The nearly-empty town­houses should serve as a warning for would-be land­lords in the same way 42 Union is a pattern for success.

Erik Halvorson is a senior studying Eco­nomics.

  • Tyler Groe­nendal

    Unless the College Park Town­houses also got $785,000 of tax­payer dollars to build it, I say Hillsdale needs more private devel­opment and less crony boon­doggles.

    • Jen­nifer Melfi

      great point!

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      Thank you Tyler, I was just going to suggest to the student his idea of “private developer” at 42 Union had alot more in common with a command economy rather then the private sector.

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      Oh BTW Tyler, the town­houses also were the recipient of gov­erment largess… getting a special tax break (tax abatement’s) called a NEZ to con­struction in college park.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    1) is the campus abuzz about the temple to mammon? Seems not to me. I’ve actually heard about a lot of people who are really unhappy about it. Let’s see some sources.
    2) other than than, great article. This is one of the best opinion pieces I have seen in the Col­legian in some time.