Politics last week hit closer to home for MSU students when the Bozeman City Commission voted to deny the rezoning proposal for Campus Crest. For those not following the issue, Campus Crest is a housing company that proposed building a 600 bedroom private apartment complex with amenities like a coffee bar, tanning salon and 24 hour gym in Bozeman. Students may be asking, “What next? Will the ‘Game of Houses,’ as the Bozeman Daily Chronicle called it, continue?” With Montana State University’s ever increasing enrollment and the lack of housing in the Bozeman area the question of “Where will I live?” is becoming even more of a problem for students.
The lack of housing has caused the university to scramble. A whole new student dorm has been approved by the university’s administration. The building, to be located just north of the ASMSU Outdoor Recreation Center, will have 400 beds and cost the University a whopping $35 million. With the record breaking enrollments that MSU keeps having, this is great news for incoming freshmen. However, very few students choose to remain in dorms their second, third and fourth years.
Cheap off-campus housing only exists in limited supply in Bozeman. Vacancy rates in Bozeman have hovered at around 2 percent; a healthy rate is considered to be around 5 percent. Half of renters in the city also spend around 30 percent of their income on rent, which is classified by city government as unaffordable. The commission’s decision should not come as a surprise though. The residents of the proposed area launched a concentrated campaign to shoot the proposal down. Multiple letters and more than 60 residents testified against the proposal at the meeting on the Feb. 24. Issues such as reduced property values, a loss of community identity and a worry about increased crime by students were all voiced repeatedly by the residents. Under such pressure it’s a wonder even one commissioner, I-Ho Pomeroy, voted in favor of the proposal.
Although Campus Crest’s proposal was defeated in a one-to-four vote, students wanting to live off-campus shouldn’t despair. About a month ago, in a far less contentious City Commission meeting, a 499-bedroom apartment complex called the Stadium View Apartments was approved in a unanimous vote. As its name suggests, the project lies close to the football stadium between 11th and 19th Avenue. Campus Crest’s proposal and its defeat is not the end for student housing projects in the city. Hopefully, for students looking for housing, more and more options like the Stadium View Apartments will become a reality.