U area also needs low-cost housing

Daily Editorial Board

Despite perennial predictions that the housing bubble around the University of Minnesota campus will burst, developers’ interest in the area remains strong, and building projects around campus show few signs of flagging. 
 
The Minnesota Daily reported last week that the vacancy rate in east Minneapolis — where the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and Dinkytown are located — is just 1.8 percent, even as new apartment complexes continue to rise. Last year, the Marshall and the Bridges opened, and the Radius and WaHu are scheduled to open in the fall. 
 
Critics of these luxury apartment complexes have noted that they are often unaffordable for average students and may lead to gentrification.
 
We feel that these complaints are justified, and we would like to see an increased emphasis on affordable-housing projects around campus. However, criticism of the apartment boom has often overshadowed its benefits. 
 
For example, neighborhoods have profited from the retailers housed in apartment buildings’ ground floors. Below Sydney Hall, CVS offers a pharmacy, and the Target Express beneath the Marshall provides Dinkytown with easy access to groceries. 
 
Moreover, anxiety about gentrification sparked a movement that recently culminated in the designation of parts of Dinkytown as a historic district. Competition from off-campus housing options has also pressured the University to modernize Pioneer Hall and the Superblock’s dining facilities. 
 
We recognize the luxury housing boom’s flaws, but it’s too simple to criticize the movement outright — ultimately, it’s also important to remember that these apartments have benefited more people than just the ones they house.