Thursday, April 14, 2011


The neighborhood of Burleith is up in arms against neighboring Georgetown University’s campus plan. The main concern appears to be the fact that GU students are using the homes in the neighborhood as housing and the university isn’t doing enough to expand housing options on campus. Meanwhile, nearby American University’s plan to build additional housing on its parking lot isn’t sitting well with its neighbors:

Many neighbors are worried about possible traffic and safety problems on Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues, as well as the proposed East Campus on the current Nebraska Parking Lot, which borders the Westover Place townhouses.

“I don’t think you’d have as many people here tonight if you didn’t plan to build dorms on the East Campus,” ANC 3D01 Commissioner Kent Slowinski said ...

These issues are familiar ones to urban universities and they all have its own flavors. George Washington University faced a similar issue with its Foggy Bottom and West End neighbors and ended up buying the (in)famous Watergate Howard Johnson and converting it into a dorm. It’s current expansion includes merging with the former Mount Vernon College and while its relationships with the neighbors in the tony Foxhall Road area have not been acrimonious so far, its hard to say what the future holds as private universities continue expanding enrollment to attract students.

It is interesting that Burleith neighbors chose to oppose GU rather than to use moral suasion to prevent landlords from renting to GU students. It seems like private interests would regulate the behavior of landlords in that renting short-term to students would lower overall property values and that they would be better off living in the homes or renting to more ‘stable’ types. Is this evidence of market failure in the sense that capital appreciation does not equal the rents accrued, or is this evidence of short-term view on the part of landlords who prefer income now than later?

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