The Minneapolis City Council’s approval on Friday [July 25] of Doran Development’s plans to renovate the Dinkydome represents another move by private developers to cash in on the student housing market. Our reaction is that the plan, like others, is not in the best interest of students or independent businesses around campus.
Doran’s founder, Kelly Doran, told the Star Tribune in December that rental rates in the renovated complex would range from $700 to $850 per bed. Pricey rates like that only add to the nightmares of the housing hunt for students, many of whom are already crunched by rising tuition, book costs, gas prices and a generally rickety economy. Expensive housing on campus forces low-income student off campus, where cheap houses and apartments – already hard to come by – are oftentimes managed by incompetent landlords who neglect upkeep, compliance and the law in managing their properties. Further exasperating student housing woes, when renters flock to new properties on campus, these very landlords are forced to raise rent to compensate for unused space.
Private developers around campus, however, are arguing that brute economics will force property owners and developers to lower their rent: as supply rises, rent prices will decrease. Dinnaken Properties Vice President Yvonne Grosulak told the Daily if the Minneapolis City Council approves Opus Northwest’s plans to add a multi-purpose building between Washington Avenue and Oak Street that they might not be able to fill their property. This scenario would be encouraging for students, but it would probably just pull the average price for luxury apartments down. That would ease the pocketbooks of only students who can already afford them because private developers typically have more financial leeway than independent landlords.
Furthermore, Opus Northwest’s development plan, if approved, will displace independently owned business like Harvard Market – CVS already has dibs on the space – Oak Street Cinema and Campus Pizza. With those losses and the redevelopment of the Dinkydome, a 90-year-old landmark, our campus could take the shape of a suburban shopping mall with cheesy frills and little regard for student needs.