By HANK ROBICHAUD
New student apartments in Tucson: A statement that will thrill some and dismay others.
In recent years, an influx of student apartments have been built around Downtown Tucson, including on the University of Arizona campus.
The UA, however, is not expecting an increase in enrollment, because it capped the acceptance to the university.
The university is attempting to have off-campus housing but still have the college environment that are essentially off-campus apartment-style dorms.
This could be taking away from some of the Fourth Avenue culture that Tucson is known for.
Some of the skyscraper apartment buildings that have gone up over recent years have taken away from the view of the mountains that have been able to see over the top of the stores on Fourth Avenue.
“Yes, it is having an impact,” said Bill Nugent, who owns The Shanty, an Irish bar that’s located on Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street. “As far as the actual buildings — they are getting to be little gruesome. I understand by building up is the best way to get the use out of the land, but it just doesn’t feel very Tucson.
“It gives me hope in our block right here with us — (The Shanty), Isabella’s and the barbershop — it feels more like a neighborhood.”
The cultural aspect of Tucson’s downtown is different than the average city in America because of its neighborhood downtown vibe.
The apartments won’t be necessarily mean more students, but it will mean more students in that concentrated area. This can cause even worse normal and foot traffic than we had seen from downtown and around the campus.
The culture of Fourth Avenue was created with a lot of single-story buildings that were constructed in the 1900s and have remained the same buildings since. For culture to become a thing, you need history. Fourth Avenue has that history, but its history could be altered or partly erased with the creation of the new student buildings.
The new downtown apartments that are available to Pima students are One East Broadway, One West Broadway and Two East Congress.
The buildings are all at least five stories tall. Some people believe this will hinder the original culture of downtown and will block the view of the mountains.
The buildings, however, could make downtown more vibrant with more people. Businesses also could see a positive impact because of the larger population of people downtown.
If these new apartments are filled with an older crowd rather than just college students, it could change the overall demographics of the downtown Tucson living.
The best option for all would be if the apartment complex filled the units with whoever wants to live there. It will make the downtown area more diversified while remaining vibrant and lively.