Local property owner Steve Brown has claimed construction of three new residence halls would affect more than just students in the long run by impacting other property owners and local taxpayers.
The company is giving presentations to various groups and individuals on the upcoming construction and held a meeting about the issue Thursday.
The owner of Steve Brown Apartments and five private residence halls has gone public with information regarding the University of Wisconsin Student Housing East Campus Plan.
Brown believes the most upsetting aspect of the East Campus Plan is the way the university has kept the project quiet. Brown pointed out there was no discussions with students, the community or the private sector, such as his business, before UW unveiled the multimillion-dollar project.
“This plan will impact my business and impact my students,” he said. “I think these issues should be discussed.”
The $110 million East Campus Plan will include the construction of three new student residence halls and the eventual destruction of Ogg Hall.
Brown believes the university has not provided credible evidence that supports the need for more housing. According to Brown, there are 907 fewer freshmen on campus today than in 1965, when Ogg Hall opened.
The university argues that even with a smaller student population, they must turn away students who want to live in public housing, Brown said.
Brown pointed out that the university could change its policy of allowing all current residents the opportunity to renew their housing contracts to make more room for incoming freshmen.
Two UW professors involved with the School of Business, Sharon McCabe and Kerry Vandell, researched the student-housing situation in Madison for Steve Brown Apartments.
According to their research, the East Campus Plan will hurt not only the students, but private property owners and downtown Madison as well.
Excess housing on campus could potentially decline property values and reduce the private-sector tax base. The public housing additions will take away an estimated $2.5 million of Madison’s annual property-tax revenue.
Currently, the cost of housing for students at UW is comparable to that of other universities.
The average room and board on campus is $5,940.
With the construction of these three new residence halls, the university could charge as much as $8,352 a student for the Park Street residence. This estimate doesn’t account for vacancies or the possibility that the university could raise the room and board of all its public housing, not just the new buildings.
If the university tears down 950 beds and builds 1,800 new ones, Brown believes there are bound to be vacancies.
“If the university has vacancies, they will require students, like in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, to live on campus,” he said.
UW planners argue that there are 22,000 upperclassmen who could potentially fill the gaps in the private sector, replacing the loss of freshman contracts in the new student housing. Brown said no evidence supports the claim of upperclassman demand for university housing. According to Brown, 86 percent of upperclassmen do not live in residence halls.
Brown also said the plans could contribute to rising tuition costs.