Concerns over too many apartments grow with new development - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Concerns over too many apartments grow with new development

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TUSCALOOSA - AL -

Major Newman is not happy that 228 new student apartments will be built near his house on 6th Avenue Northeast in Tuscaloosa.  In fact, the development will line extremely close to his back yard. 

"First reason it was approved is because it wouldn't have enough parking spaces. So, obviously they rearranged something," said Newman.

The complex will be called Campus Crest and will sit on 16 acres east of McFarland Boulevard next to Jack Warner Parkway.

The property is also adjacent to the side of Newman's house, separated by only a thin line of trees.  And down the street from him, there are already apartments, mainly for students, so Newman will now be completely surrounded by student-geared housing. He believes it's just too much. 

"I can see the ones that are not getting filled up. And the ones that they are building," he said.

Bill Wright sits on the zoning commission, which recommended city council approve the current development and about a dozen others that are now under construction.  According to Wright, they don't have a choice.

"Knowing that we might be challenged, right now we can not in our power deny or put any kind of moratorium on any projects because it has not been determined that really is a problem," Wright said.

However, Wright also chairs the student housing task force that suspects there is a problem.  Members are looking into whether future student enrollment will sustain all of the apartments going up.  Despite the predictions, Wright says most of the developers live out of town and are willing to take risks.

"They're looking at the room rates that these complexes are charging and they're going why that's a good market to be in," Wright said. "They're adding a lot of units and one of our concerns is what is student enrollment going to look like in five years."

And that's Newman's worry -- that he might eventually end up with an empty building behind him.

"They need to quit building them." Newman said. "But I guess they can do what they want to do."

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