The fall and rise of West University apartments

Every day it seems that a different apartment complex is going up in West University. The progress and change is evident. Old, worn-down houses are being demolished and in their place modern behemoths are rising.

Although this movement seems new, property management companies and private owners have been renovating and building for years. According to Allen DeGeneault, the owner of Anslow and DeGeneault and Mallard Properties, there are multiple reasons for this.

DeGeneault attended the University of Oregon from 1969 to 1973, and at that time there were only about 12,000 students. Since then, the student number  has almost doubled in size. This influx of students has resulted in the need for more and more housing near campus.

In order to build apartment complexes and duplexes, companies have to tear down houses to make space. According to DeGeneault, the properties his company has demolished are in bad shape and needed to be changed.

“The buildings being torn down were awful,” he said. “Many contain asbestos and are environmentally bad. We are always trying to help with energy saving in our new properties.”

Mallard Properties manager Kathy Jo [email protected]@[email protected]@ agreed, saying they focus on tearing down properties that weren’t taken care of and can’t be saved.

“We tear down places that should be removed,” Leom said. “It improves the neighborhood. We don’t want parents saying, ‘Does my daughter really have to live next to this?'”

Another factor is the fact that students of today are used to a different lifestyle than those of 10 years ago. Students are opting to live in the newer buildings because they have the amenities they need.

“Ten  years ago, people didn’t know how to use a garbage disposal,” Leom said. “The expectation changed.”

Leom said that a lot of the older houses don’t have the capability for a dishwasher or high-speed Internet, but that is what people want. In most cases, it is easier to create an entirely new building than try to retrofit an old one.

While many seem to be trending toward what is new, some students still prefer the size and freedom of an older house. Samantha Rowbottom, a University senior, lives in a house.

“I wanted more space. I didn’t want neighbors stomping above my head at 2 a.m.,” she said. “I feel like I have more freedom in a house; I can decorate it, I can plant things.”

Another reason Rowbottom decided to live in a house was because it is often cheaper than a new apartment or duplex. While she sees the necessity for expansion and change, she also sees a problem with the fees involved.

“They are nice apartments; everything is clean and neat and feels so new. I just also don’t like that,” she said. “There’s no personality to the buildings, just this overwhelming feeling of expense. They were expensive to put in, they’re expensive to live in, but as long as there are students who have parents that will pay for it, there are students that will live in apartment complexes like that.”

Rowbottom also worries about the rapid expansion and how it is changing the older neighborhoods of Eugene.

“I think it can be helpful because obviously students need places to live, so it’s important that we have enough space for them,” she said. “I also think it’s detrimental to the neighborhoods of Eugene. They tear down houses just to put in these outrageous complexes that are expensive to live in so only a select portion of the student population can afford it.”

For now, Rowbottom will stay in her house. However, she doesn’t have a garbage disposal.

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