London has 14-storey student solution

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

To curb student-related violence around Fanshawe College, the planning committee of City of London has approved the development of a hefty student apartment complex.

On Monday, the planning committee approved the future apartment building, which is set to house 500 students under one 14-storey roof at the corner of First and Oxford streets across from Fanshawe College.

Ward One Councillor Roger Caranci was excited about the project.

“With computer rooms, entertainment lounges, private parking and 24-hour security, I think [the apartment complex] will be an excellent study environment.”

The apartment will be located along major bus routes, and pull many students out of single-family residences into a student-centered atmosphere, he said.

“Fanshawe students will appreciate living closer to campus,” Caranci added.

From rowdy keg parties to alcohol-fueled altercations with the London Police Service, the area around Fanshawe College has already seen an abundance of student-related conflict since September.

Many residents are worried increasing the number of students could be a dangerous move.

Seventy-one residents signed a petition against the building listing loss of income for homeowners who rent to students, an eyesore in a single family home neighbourhood and increased traffic as issues with the development.

Local resident Dan Zevenbergen was saddened by the decision.

“It’s hard for the people who put their heart and soul into this neighbourhood, to see it transform into a student ghetto.”

He said he was worried about how the high-density complex would affect homeowners who have lived in the area for decades.

“Altercations are going to happen " no doubt,” Zevenbergen said.

Corey Loft, a business and marketing student at Fanshawe, said the apartment complex would exacerbate the student problem.

“It’s probably not a good idea,” he said.

Caranci confirmed “[The developers are] adamant about security.

“When students are more confined, it’s easier to know where they are,” Caranci assured, reasoning the new housing development will reduce problems.

A comparable apartment complex, Varsity Commons, is home to about 500 Western students.

Melissa Crookes, sales and leasing manager for the property, said high-density student housing is not the cause of violence.

“The way I see it, concentrated is controlled,” she said. “With student lifestyles in mind, we can address security appropriately.”

Crookes said the relationship between students and neighbours is amicable. “Everybody’s happy.”

“We want students to live close to the institutions they attend,” Caranci said.

The planning committee’s recommendation will go before council on Monday.

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