Wrap your head around this: 1,300 more USC student beds

Peter Ustinov (on the right) in "Logan's Run."

Peter Ustinov (on the right) in “Logan’s Run.”

I was struck by this yesterday, but didn’t get around to sharing it until now:

The University of South Carolina will add around 1,300 new beds in privately owned student housing properties in time for the fall 2016 semester, seventh-most in the country.

A study by student housing and apartment market data provider Axiometrics found seven of the 10 university markets expecting the most new beds were in the Southeast or the Southwest. Arkansas led the way with an anticipated 2,319 new beds.

Several new student-oriented apartment complexes have recently opened in Columbia, including: Park Place, located at Blossom and Huger streets, with 640 beds; Station at Five Points, located at Gervais and Harden streets, with 660 beds; and 650 Lincoln Phase Two, with 297 beds.

Nationwide, a total of 47,700 new beds are scheduled for come to market in time for the fall semester….

Everybody else in "Logan's Run" Jenny Agutter, anyway...

Everybody else in “Logan’s Run.” Or Jenny Agutter, anyway…

Hey, I don’t care about nationwide. I care about the fact that, as many additional students as we’ve absorbed downtown in recent years, 1,300 more are moving in right now!

And that does count hundreds or thousands more that we can see under construction!

Already, walking down Main Street makes me feel like Peter Ustinov in “Logan’s Run.” This is bizarre.

Where are they all coming from?

52 thoughts on “Wrap your head around this: 1,300 more USC student beds

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I think it’s cool that Jenny Agutter still has an active, vibrant acting career now that her hot-young-thing-wearing-basically-nothing days are over. Which is not necessarily what you would have expected when you saw her in “Logan’s Run.”

    Usually, she’s an authority figure: “Sister Julienne” on “Call the Midwife.” Councilwoman Hawley in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” And so forth…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    She was great in the first season of Spooks (MI-5 to you Yanks)….

    USC has not-so-gradually increased enrollments. The students need to live somewhere. Dorms on campus have largely been remodeled to provide private rooms and en suite baths, and most are suite-style–far less efficient spacewise than the old two-to-a-room and a bath down the hall. As a result, only freshman can live on campus, for the most part, vs. when I lived on campus all three years I was resident in Columbia (my 4th was in England).. The city with the help of neighborhoods like mine has cracked down on (dangerous) over-occupancy–other than the private dorms, you can only have three unrelated people in a dwelling unit.
    And parking has gotten severely pinched by all the development on parking lots, so most students want to either live very close by or in a shuttle-serviced complex. Since Columbia changed the zoning a few years back to allow private dorms (with ridiculous tax breaks), so many have sprung up that Copper Beech, out past the stadium, in the county, reportedly is half-empty and has many non-student tenants. When my brother was at USC (Class of 83) students lived off I-126, in complexes that are now, um, low income. I expect the same may happen out Bluff Road.

  3. Tex

    Next ask someone at USC how many new classrooms they put in over the last year. I’m willing to bet that number is 0. Ask how many additional parking posts were created over the past year, I’m willing to bet that number is 0. College education is taking the same route as the airlines, cram as many as you can get in and charge them as much as they’ll pay.

    BTW – Every USC faculty and staff member that wants to park on campus now for the first time since the automobile was invented is required to pay to park. As low as $10/month for lots damn near in Lexington and as much as $105/month for those with reserved spots which are likely paid by the department.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Yes, every public sector employee should be guaranteed free parking, adjacent to their place of employment. Preferably in a surface lot as garages are just so inconvenient and, well, urban.

      And then one could point you over to Gervais St – you know, that gleaming new law school project? There is also the 200,000 SF of classroom space that USC got dumped back on itself from the National Advocacy Center’s change in plans. Just another $100 million to be swept under the rug of tuition increases.

      As Doug said, USC is growing like a weed; but it’s fabled Innovista has been exposed for what t always was, flim-flam marketing hype without a prayer at driving an economic return.

      1. Doug Ross

        Cue Brad saying “Innovista was never about becoming a technology hub”. Except every piece of marketing B.S. that USC produced for Innovista claimed otherwise. What was the return on investment in terms of actual real non-service industry jobs? I think at one point they listed about 3 companies with 10 employees total. Then they disappeared.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          No, that was part of the plan. The rest of it was the “Apartments, bars, restaurants” that you deride….

          Now the Greene Street thoroughfare is under construction (with Penny Tax money), I’m waiting to hear when we get the thing that the Greene Street is supposed to lead to — the waterfront park…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Wait a sec…

            Google Maps says the park is THERE already, and called “Bicentennial Park.” But when you go to the city’s website, there is in “Bicentennial Park” listed…

            Anybody know what that’s all about?

      2. Claus

        How is parking for a public sector employee different than an employee for a private company? Employees still need a place to park, the bus doesn’t run by my house. I’ve worked in both and had better free parking in the private sector. Is there enough garage parking on campus for all of it’s employees? The fact is there is not enough garage AND surface parking on campus for all of it’s employees. So what’s the solution, continue to let those employees fight for a parking spot, and while we’re at it let’s let them pay for the right to fight for available parking. The only solution is to ban first and second year students from parking on campus, which other schools do successfully, but not even in the minds of those at USC.

        How many undergraduate courses will be using the 200,000 sq. ft. of Law School classroom space that is not likely to be available for another year? How much of the old BA school is being used for classrooms this Fall? Little to none, it’s primarily an empty building on campus for what, nearly 3 years now? How much of the old Law School space will be used for classroom space… I mean after the year or two of renovation and asbestos abatement.

        Mark come on campus sometime, it’s likely a lot different than when you were a student here.

          1. Dave Crockett

            Clemson University employees have paid for parking for more than 25 years. The fee is based on salary:
            Up to $30,000.00 – $24.00/year
            $30,000.01 – $50,000.00 – $83.00/year
            $50,000.01 – $70,000.00 – $129.00/year
            $70,000.01 – $90,000.00 – $165.00/year
            $90,000.01 and over – $200.00/year
            (from http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/parking/employees/rates.html)
            No guaranteed parking anywhere for employees, with the exception of one spot for the President at Sikes Hall. No differential between on-street and lot-based parking. Students are allowed to use faculty/staff spaces after 4:30 p.m. but are expected to move to student parking areas before 8 a.m. or be ticketed.

        1. Mark Stewart

          It is never “the only solution is to…” that’s always a red flag statement.

          Maybe the solution is the one USC is pursuing? A slow, methodical ratcheting down on the available parking on and around campus? Urbanizing the place. Rewarding alternate transportation – encouraging it really. Pushing freshman (showing my age there) vehicles to the far fringes of campus would be a good move by USC – though it’s probably something they do already. I imagine the real parking problems are generated by the staff and grad students.

          You could also move. Or even drive to the bus and commute on it into Columbia. Or bike. There are always other options. Parking adjacent to where one works needn’t be the only solution.

          If it makes you feel better, my office building has 102 parking spaces – and about 3,500+ people working in the building. There are probably more than twice that number of corner offices, so it’s a downright Darwinian campaign to land a parking spot.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            I went to undergrad at W&L, which is a tiiiiiiny liberal arts college in Lexington, Virginia. Freshmen were highly, highly discouraged to have a car, but it wasn’t forbidden. Part of the discouragement was the freshman parking lot was about a 25 minute walk from the freshman dorms. So, it wasn’t really practical to have a car.

            Freshman and sophomores were required to live on campus, Juniors and Seniors had the choice, but weren’t guaranteed housing. Seemed to work out pretty well. All the Juniors and Seniors usually got off campus houses out in the country. I lived in a house with two other guys our Junior and Senior years. The house was so far out in the country, we didn’t have a neighbor for a quarter of a mile, we had to drive through a stream to get to our house, and deer and turkeys came down to the stream to drink in our front yard on occasion. The name of our road was “Toad Run” on account of all the bullfrogs.

            Going “into town” for classes or whatever was a big deal. It sort of felt like Little House on the Prairie sometimes. We’d be sitting around, and if we were out of something, the following would usually happen:

            Me: Well, that’s the last of the bread.
            Geoff: No worries, we have other food. We can make it awhile until the next trip into town.
            Me: Okay, next time we go into town, we’ll get some at the store. Add it to the list.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              My grandfather went there — Washington and Lee.

              Recently my Dad told me a story about how his Dad picked up spare cash by taking the place of VMI cadets when they wanted to stay out all night and didn’t want to be caught at bedcheck. Now that’s enterprising — making money while you sleep…

      3. Kathryn Fenner

        Dunno–my husband’s department is moving into the Innovista building across from the Strom this spring…

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Putting the Computer Science and Engineering Department in Innovista seems pretty on target for the mission of Innovista.

            1. Tex

              Not much of a revenue producer for the university. Instead of all those fancy building names to attract tenants they could have just called it Swearengen Annex.

  4. Doug Ross

    And how many of the students are using loans to pay for luxury lifestyles? Then will cry when they have to pay back the loans..until Hillary waves her magic wand and makes everyone else pay for them.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Anecdotally, it seems we have a lot of wealthy parents who, for example, buy Junior and Muffy a $500K house or condo in University Hill, because they can. Avery Wilks’ rather good piece this weekend in The State about student loans says, surprisingly, that only about half of USC students have loans and the average debt at graduation was something in the $20Ks. I would have thought both numbers were much higher, given in-state tuition at $13K+.

      I see a bimodal distribution: kids with loans and kids with money to burn and expensive tastes. When you look at USC’s data on alcohol consumption I bet there’s a lot of overlap between the money to burn kids and the heavy drinking crowd. The heavy drinkers are very heavily frats and business majors.

      1. Tex

        The average college debt is around $30,000 and students are screaming about being up to their eyeballs in debt when they graduate. How much will they spend on their first car out of college and post pictures of it and themselves smiling all over Facebook.

        You mean those Social Worker and History majors aren’t big drinkers? Maybe they have the forethought that they’re going to spend the rest of their lives broke enough when they graduate.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        I just find it hard to imagine spending money that way even if one has the money.

        It seems ridiculous.

        I need to dig up that footage I shot in 2006 when my roommate and I went and visited our old room — I lived in the Honeycombs for the one semester I went to USC, in fall 1971 — just before those blocks of cells were all torn down.

        I meant to post something at the time, but just never got around to buckling down and editing the video.

        Young people would be shocked…


        1. Doug Ross

          The value of living with a roommate in a single cramped room is pretty much an all or nothing proposition. At least it was for me. I had two good roommates and three bad ones over the course of five years. When it’s good, it’s very good. When it’s bad, it’s awful.

          Since graduating, any time a work or other event required doubling up on rooms with someone I didn’t know, I chose to pay for my own room.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            I agree, but was stymied when Nexsen Pruet had a retreat (ugh ugh ugh) on Daufuskie, and there simply were not rooms available to pay for. I was roomed with a seriously neurotic family lawyer from Charleston whom I had never met before, and who left the firm shortly thereafter. She’d camp in the bathroom for 45 minutes or more….

            1. Doug Ross

              I’ll see you neurotic lawyer and raise you a local surgeon who on a field trip with our kids asked to use my deodorant. I said “Keep it”.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                So it didn’t occur to him to do without?

                I went 10 or 15 years once without using deodorant. I never noticed a difference, and no one else — including people who would have been VERY frank with me, such as my wife — noticed, either.

                If you stay clean and don’t sweat, you don’t smell. And if you DO sweat enough, I don’t have all that much confidence in a deodorant anyway…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  By the way, I use deodorant, NOT antiperspirant. The idea of putting something on my skin that messes with my sweat glands is really off-putting to me.

                  I use Mennen Speed Stick…

                  Yeah, I know. Too much information. We’re getting into boxers-vs.-briefs territory here…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    No. I just didn’t worry about it. And if it was a problem, nobody told me. And with the people I know, they would have.

                    I think deodorant is one of the stupidest things we First-World humans have talked ourselves into “needing.” As long as they’re clean and not carrying diseases, why shouldn’t human beings smell like human beings?

                    You have to understand, I grew into adulthood in the early ’70s, when the cool thing was to be natural. This is why I can’t grok why kids today want to get tattoos, or body piercings, or hair coloring or extreme haircuts. All that is just so… uncool. We wore our hair long because that’s what hair DOES, man — it grows…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Right now, I’m growing a beard, which sounds like I’m doing something active when I’m not — I just quit shaving. Which is natural.

                      You know what is, to me, one of the weirdest trends of recent decades? Guys wearing “beards” that they trim every day down to a three-day stubble that just looks like they haven’t shaved for a couple of days. How stupid is that? If you want to grow a beard, grow a BEARD. Don’t halfway grow some stupid-looking thing that takes more daily care than shaving.

                      Again, it’s uncool.

                      But I’ve noticed, the last year or two, a lot of young hipsters (a term that was old and uncool to my generation, the kind of word you used ironically, like “hepcat”) are growing full, wild beards. Now THAT I approve of, even if it makes some 19-year-old kid look like one of the Smith Brothers

              2. Kathryn Fenner

                Back when I was a younger person, females would ask to “borrow” a tampon. Uh, no, but here’s one you can keep.

  5. Mark Stewart

    Maybe the rental owners in Shandon and the streets west of Harden will decide to sell instead of compete for college kids?

    On the other hand, having zoning ordinances against three unrelated adults living in one house / unit is sort of both ridiculous as public policy and quite discriminatory. Same with prohibitions on accessory apartments in “single family” zoned areas.

    So I’m sort of mixed on all of this – except remain opposed to the idea of sweetheart tax deals for these student housing projects. As if Columbia doesn’t already unfairly shoulder the burden of hosting both the state government and the university (I’ll give Ft. Jackson a pass on this) – and then city council goes and pulls the rug out from under itself with that ill-considered tax give-away! Flippin’ genius move that was…

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Kit Smith did a lot of research, and it seems that a certain type of student wants to live in a house–the type that doesn’t want supervision (partiers) or the type who wants a dog.
      The unrelated persons deal was heavily litigated and went to the SC Supremes. The issue in my neighborhood and others is the lack of space for all the vehicles they want to park, the lack of space to store the garbage cans they fill, and, at least up until recently, concern for overloading the wiring in old houses with stereos, TVs and computers. A single family, even one of Warthen proportions, just isn’t likely to have that many vehicles to park in that small a space. They either live in large lot/garage community, or don’t have a lot of vehicles. Each student tenant pretty much has a vehicle and a “friend” with one….

      1. Mark Stewart

        “Kit Smith did a lot of research”: You mean she looked out her front window and listened from her rear terrace to the rising racket coming from down in the ravine below?

        Some students would also rather live in a multi-imensional neighborhood as well. Just for the atmosphere.

        My complaint here is more with the rental property owners who consciously chose to benefit from the neighborhood’s character for their rental income and yet do nothing to be a good neighbor to those around their property. When one can spot the student rental housing from 3/4’s of a block away, that’s a neighborhood problem – a community problem. Artificially restricting a residence to three unrelated people does very little to get at the underlying issue – and in fact it tends to both devalue the larger rental homes (leading to predictably lesser ongoing maintenance) and to reward the continuation of the horrible little units created in the 1950s-1970s when Shandon, in particular, was on the downswing.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          The Smiths have a lovely rear terrace, by the way. It’s been years since I’ve been there, but I recall it as being nice.

          I was standing there with a drink listening to Dick Harpootlian and Alex Sanders trying to shock me with a highly disreputable anecdote about themselves, which I would share except that after all these years, I can’t remember any of the details. Or rather, I remember some of them, but you don’t tell a story like that without having it all clear in your mind.

          I should have written it all down the next day. But come to think of it, it was probably off-the-record, so what was the point…

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            They sold it this spring and moved out in June. They are building a slightly smaller place on Wateree.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            So I guess I need to go somewhere else to get Dick and Alex to tell that story again.

            Of course, from what I do remember of it, it will still be off-the-record…

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          No, Kit Smith researched other SEC schools to find out what they knew. She’s got real social science chops and also called up the schools. Thanks for the dismissive response.

          1. Mark Stewart

            You are welcome, Kathryn. You may have noticed in past discussion – I am not a Kit Smith (the political meddler part) fan. I would not at all be surprised that she would reach out (waste?) other SEC schools’ time with such a self-evident hypothesis.

            If she had real social science “chops” I would argue she would tend to reach very different conclusions than the ones she has reached – in the past. There is, always, hope for future change, as they say.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Seriously — to get back to the kind of observation that interests moi — do y’all not get the feeling, walking downtown, that the entire world is suddenly 18-22 years old? Except you, of course…

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      When I walk, at the crack of dawn, I get the feeling everyone is either a boot camp participant or an older black blue collar worker….

    2. Doug Ross

      I should have trademarked Dormovista™ a couple years ago, That’s what Innovista’s technology laden pipe dream has become. Apartments, bars, restaurants. A service economy haven for baristas with liberal arts degrees.

  7. Karen Pearson

    My concern is driving near the university. Will someone please teach those brilliant students to look before they cross the streets and explain to them what those pretty green, red, and yellow lights are for?

    1. Tex

      It doesn’t matter what color the light is when you’re staring at your phone. Walk across campus it’s just sad, groups of people walking around staring into the palm of their hand. I’m glad I went to college when I did and not being a slave to your the little box attached to my hand. These kids probably don’t even know what a dorm party is.

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