Married housing proposed

Josh Coffman

City planners have discussed the possibility of adding housing for married students and students with children near the proposed Greek Village site.

Land between 11th Street and the future SKyPAC site along Kentucky and Adams streets is designated as a residential area in the city’s redevelopment plans, said Alice Burks, assistant to the director of the city’s office of Housing and Community Development for special projects.

Family housing for students is one idea for the area, Burks said. Her office has discussed possible uses for the land next to the proposed village site with Gene Tice, vice president for Student Affairs and campus services.

The discussion of nearby off-campus housing for students with families has been a recurring issue for decades, Burks said.

“With a larger population of non-traditional students, it now may be a need more than ever,” she said.

Tice agrees that there is a need for the housing, but he said much needs to be determined before the idea can take shape.

“We think we have a need for married student housing, but we don’t have a plan,” he said.

Tice said family housing is a problem because young, single parents don’t have much money for new apartments.

Most campuses with family student housing have had their buildings for several decades, he said.

“You don’t see much new construction,” he said. “The challenge is building something that’s affordable.”

John Bradley, president of Student Government Association, said Western is the only four-year public university in Kentucky that doesn’t offer such housing to students.

“I think married student housing is something Western lacks,” he said.

Bradley supports a plan to build housing for non-traditional students.

But he said such a project is not without risks.

The project could cost several million dollars, Bradley said. If the housing isn’t filled, it could hurt Western financially.

“Anything the Student Life Foundation builds must be self-supporting,” he said.

The foundation has looked into the family housing issue the last two semesters.

Bowling Green senior Bill Stephens said family housing would be good for Western. He has two kids, but he said he wouldn’t move into new housing because he already owns a home.

“I think it’d be a good idea,” he said. “Instead of waiting on the fraternities, they should build some sort of young, married student housing.”

Tice said one option is to let private developers construct the housing and lease it to students. The Gables apartments and Western Place apartments are two similar examples that offer housing exclusively to single students.

Reach Josh Coffman at [email protected]