The Developers’ Hour on the JOLT: Mini-dorm building is community serviceby Pamela Powers Hannley on Jan. 05, 2011, under Arizona, City Council, Historic architecture, John C. Scott, Tucson
A full hour of yesterday’s John C. Scott Show on the JOLT (KJLL 1330AM) was devoted to promoting the value of mini-dorms. Ick. (Hopefully, they had to pay for this lengthy advertorial on mini-dorms. If not, the JOLT missed an opportunity to make some serious change.)
Michael Goodman, Richard Studwell, and another developer chatted on the radio about the selfless community service they provide by knocking down old houses in historic neighborhoods and replacing them with mini-dorms for UA students.
Their schtick is that since the state of Arizona is too poor to build student housing, big-hearted developers– like them– must come to the rescue and build mini-dorms. Not enough student housing has been a long-term problem at the UA. Since the state makes money on students living in dorms, I don’t understand why the UA rarely builds them– unless, of course, the developers lobby the state not to build dorms. (After all, dorms would cut into their action.)
The latest flash point of mini-dorm construction is in the Jefferson Park Neighborhood (between Campbell and Park, south of Grant). On the radio yesterday, the developers’ contention was that the Jefferson Park is a ramshackled neighborhood of decaying 1950s ranch houses that have no architectural value. They said that many of the houses are so far gone that they can’t be renovated and should be torn down and replaced with mini-dorms.
They also tried to paint the neighborhood activists who oppose the rape of their neighborhood and demolition of family homes as small group of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) kooks who don’t like living near noisy college students.
To fact-check their statements on the radio, I drove around Jefferson Park on my way home yesterday.
Yes, there are some rundown rentals– as there are in all midtown and downtown neighborhoods in Tucson, thanks to local slumlords. (BTW, City Council Members, isn’t there something you can do about slumlords who allow their unkempt properties to blight our older neighborhoods?)
The majority of the Jefferson Park houses were well-kept older homes with mature vegetation. There was a mix of 1930s Territorial style homes and 1950s brick bungalows. I didn’t see any traditional ranch houses, as there are on the east side. The houses on East Waverly Street that surround 1036 (above), which is being demolished by Goodman, are all very nice. It’s sad that this residential street filled with well-appointed older homes will be plagued with the blemish of a mini-dorm.
Many long-time Tucsonans lament the loss of Barrio Viejo historic homes that were demolished when the Tucson Convention Center was built. I believe that in 10 years when the mini-dorms are crumbling we will lament the loss of historic homes in the city’s core.