Editorial | Unreasonable high-rises tower over modest housing


Candice Zhou

Hub Champaign Daniel, constructed in 2021, stands at the corner of Sixth and Daniel streets. The building’s sign, pictured on Saturday, is missing a letter.

The twin towns of Champaign-Urbana are sometimes referred to as a “micro-urban” population center — partly due to the imposing high-rises that line Green Street. These high-rises make Green Street look pretty, but that is where their utility ends.

While these buildings certainly benefit the ever-increasing student population, high-rises cannot be considered a complete or sustainable solution. From the frequent flooding to the boy-who-cried-wolf fire alarms, Green Street high-rises are not a good place to live and an unwelcome guest in C-U.

By searching the University’s subreddit, one can find dozens of discussion posts railing against the many luxury apartments scattered throughout campus. Apartment companies often give incentives such as gift cards to reward submitting positive reviews on Google, completely misrepresenting the actual living conditions. The rooms are small. Renters experience issues with basic utilities such as water, as well as fire alarms getting pulled frequently and at inconvenient times. All of this is being underscored by poor, slow and even unresponsive management.

These infrastructure and management issues are emblematic of the business practices of these development companies. Their main objective is to buy cheap plots of land, cheaply build on top of it and charge rent at exorbitant prices. Suffice to say, the costs greatly outweigh the benefits — as appealing as life in a high-rise may be.

While the business model adopted by these development companies is certainly a profitable venture, we cannot ignore the lack of equity sprouting from these buildings. The high-rises, situated at the most convenient locations on campus, are only accessible to those with the means to pay the pricey rent.

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Our University ranks among the top colleges in on-campus class enrollment of both graduate and undergraduate students — and with that comes a need for housing.

Vertical high-density housing is a good solution to this real problem. The University has managed to prevent a housing catastrophe by being reasonable with its limit of admitted students — thus far. But affordable student housing, capable of sufficiently supporting the number of students here, should be the golden standard.

These plots of land where high-rises are being developed could be better used to create housing options for low-income students.

Limits to affordable housing options especially hurt in-state students. These students often choose to attend the University because it’s their most affordable option for higher education. However, while the tuition may be cheaper, the implicit costs of off-campus housing may not be.

Many students find themselves backed into a corner: opt for one of the many properties owned by notorious rental agencies, or settle for housing that is way off campus, which is often inaccessible and inconvenient.

This is a problem that should not exist.

Students are entitled to a quality living experience that does not distract them from their ability to succeed professionally and academically. Worrying about your homework should be enough. Worrying about when you’ll have hot water again shouldn’t be an issue our peers have to face.

For new students, we recommend dedicating some time searching for smaller rental apartments. A landlord you can call or deal with face-to-face will always be better than an apartment dictated by their parent company’s shareholders and profit margins.

University Housing is a convenient option for upperclassmen, since they have access to dorms with better amenities like ISR, Nugent or Wassaja.

Ultimately, the University and the City of Champaign has the responsibility and authority to do something about the poor quality of the Green Street high-rises. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to stop these developers, but it’s completely possible to increase our standards before we’re faced a housing crisis, or even worse, a catastrophe.


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