Three new townhomes proposed in Marcy-Holmes

Residents worry that affordable housing options are diminishing in Dinkytown.

Proposed renderings of the townhomes on Fourth Street SE, Seventh Street SE and 10th Street SE.

Hanna Van Den Einde

Several area developers proposed three new townhomes in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood amid resident concerns about affordability and losing the historic character of Dinkytown.

If approved, these townhomes would provide student housing in the Dinkytown area and replace homes on 4th Street SE, 7th Street SE and 10th Street SE that were built as long as 100 years ago.

The proposed townhomes would give students more options for housing, with 13 new five-bedroom units. If approved by the city, construction on all units would begin fall 2021 and renters could lease units by summer 2022, said William Wells, owner of Wells & Company Architects, which designed the three townhomes.

Dinkytown Rentals is developing the project on 7th Street and submitted it to the city for a final permit. The 4th Street and 10th Street projects, developed by the Miles Group and GoGopher Rentals, are slated for public hearings in July 2021 before they go to the city for approval.

The townhomes would provide students with more safe housing options in Dinkytown with additional external lighting, said Chris Lautenschlager, the executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association.

“They are a clear improvement over what’s existing there, and it will allow the opportunity for more students to have more options, options that are safe,” Lautenschlager said.

The proposed properties would replace houses that have been a part of the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood for up to 100 years. Barbara Camm, a founder of Preserve Historic Dinkytown, said that she is disappointed with the deterioration of historic Dinkytown homes.

“It’s really a shame that Dinkytown homes, historic or otherwise, are being lost due to negligence on the part of property owners,” Camm said. “The character of the neighborhood is being systematically destroyed. One-hundred-year-old houses are being replaced by buildings constructed of shoddy materials that will last perhaps no more than 40 years.

According to Camm, these townhomes would replace naturally occurring affordable housing, which are houses that cost less than the market rate. She added that these new developments, geared toward student living, tend to drive out young families from the neighborhood.

“These buildings are not ones in which to raise families, and actually, this is no longer a family friendly neighborhood,” Camm said. “Young families need to have a place to live near campus and they need to have services like schools and health care available near them.”

Joe Schaedler, a board member of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said his biggest concern about the townhomes was affordability.

“I want to make sure that developers steer away from [expensive apartments] and try to make things as affordable and as livable as possible,” Schaedler said.