The fact that everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right

The type of student housing that Landmark Properties wants to build on the Sather site doesn’t feel right.

These “purpose-built” dormitory-style developments are popping up in college towns all over the country – and right here in Corvallis (Tyler Street Townhomes, Seventh Street Station, to name just two). It is certainly the latest trend in student housing, and perhaps the hottest trend (and biggest money-maker) in real estate nationwide.

I’ve read a lot of articles about this real estate boom. I’ve read everything I can about Landmark Properties and their plans for the Sather site. My conclusion? It isn’t right for Corvallis.

We are a pretty small community. A development this size affects all of us, not just the people who live nearby. Saying “Yes” to Landmark and the Sathers would be an acquiescence: a nod to OSU that it is okay not to take responsibility for its massive growth plans; an agreement that the very nature of Corvallis, the livability that puts us at the top of many national “Best of” lists, may soon be a thing of the past.

Part of the beauty of the Corvallis area is its abundance of green space. Surrounding a city with protected natural areas comes at a price – a limit to the amount of land available for expansion. The Sather site has long been part of the city’s long-term growth plans, but the Comprehensive Plan envisions something quite different than Landmark Properties:

  • Section 13.12b calls for growth that will “cluster new developments into compact, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods designed to be pleasant and walkable, with a mix of uses, housing types, and densities.”
  • Section 9.4.6 states, “The city shall maintain minimum standards for multi-family units that encourage the development of units designed for long-term family living.”

The Retreat at Oak Creek plan is for a huge, homogeneous group of buildings constructed solely for OSU students. It will create a monoculture with no diversity whatsoever, transient and separate from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Spending most Saturdays at the Farmers Market, I’ve talked to many local residents who agree on two things: yes, the rental market in town is tight, especially for families. And no, we do not need another purpose-built student housing complex here. We need single family homes and multi-family units for everyone.

One more thing they agree on? That the right vote is a “NO” vote on Measure 02-80.

– MS

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