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The Politics of Housing? Steve Brown the Community Activist

Please limit discussion in this area to local and state politics.

Is Steve Brown concerned about Madison or just his own profit margin?

Profits only baby.
9
100%
No Way, Steve's only concern is a vibrant Madison for all to enjoy
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 9

The Politics of Housing? Steve Brown the Community Activist

Postby PopeOnFire » Tue Apr 13, 2004 3:35 pm

In yesterday's State Journal, Housing provider Steve Brown authored a guest column that attempted to warn taxpayer's of the university's folly in planning to build new student housing. He mentioned that there are currently 700 units available in the private sector ( his buildings ) that the University should rent. Uh. huh.

Steve Brown serves Steve Brown first and foremost. Of course the university's proposal will have a direct effect on his business. Most of his tenants are freshman and reside in his private residence halls. More public student housing will result in smaller profits for Steve because freshman will be less inclined to stay at
his older and more ramshackle buildings.

Boo Hoo Steve. I'm really feeling for ya. What, you might have to take 3 weeks in Hawaii instead of six?

Go Slow On Campus Housing Expansion
Wisconsin State Journal :: OPINION :: A8
Monday, April 12, 2004
Steve Brown
Like most alumni, I have a deep love and respect for UW-Madison. And, as a provider of quality student housing for more than 25 years, I have enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with my alma mater.
Over the years, I have gladly donated time and resources to support the university and have shared my experiences with students in the Business School. And, my eldest daughter is enrolling there this fall.

Unfortunately, the university is promoting a student-housing building proposal that is seriously flawed. I feel obliged to oppose it because I believe it will have a profound and negative effect on students, taxpayers and Downtown business.

Here's the problem. Freshman enrollment has been decreasing or holding steady for 15 years, and there are no plans to increase it. Despite no demonstration of need, however, the UW wants to add 720 to 850 new beds to its residence halls capacity (that is over and above the more than 950 new beds being proposed to replace beds lost when Ogg Hall is demolished in 2007).

This excess capacity will, in my opinion, increase housing costs for students, negatively affect campus-area real estate values and could ultimately cost Madison property taxpayers money.

Let's start with the impact on students. Wisconsin resident tuition has more than doubled in the past decade. On top of that added burden, UW-Madison proposes to build housing that will cost students even more than they are paying now.

One estimate is the cost of a basic double-occupancy bed in the new University Housing units would skyrocket from $5,170 to nearly $7,700. And the price would go up unless they can fill every bed. And because lower-cost, equal-quality private housing is abundantly available, it seems unlikely that every bed will be full unless students are required to live in UW housing (they currently are not).

In addition, the increased capacity will have a profound impact on the campus-area housing market and the city's tax base. There are more than 700 beds available right now for students in privately owned, downtown housing that independent experts view as comparable to, or better than, university housing. Rather than keeping the lid on student costs by working with the private sector to make use of existing capacity, the UW proposes to compete with private-housing owners by adding $110 million of new housing to the market.

An oversupply of subsidized university housing of this magnitude is bound to affect the Downtown private-housing market and drive down private property values. Why build surplus housing that can only draw residents from the private housing market, especially since no studies have been done to determine the impact on taxpayers? Unless the city cuts services, the lost tax base from the campus area can only be replaced by increasing taxes in the other city neighborhoods.

So while I wholeheartedly support the proposed aesthetic improvements and additions to the university's academic, arts and humanities infrastructure contained in UW-Madison's East Campus Development Plan, I believe the student-housing component of the plan needs be more closely scrutinized.

It is time to slow down, look more closely at the consequences, and determine what's in the best interest of our city, its taxpayers, students, housing providers, and ultimately, the university itself.
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Re: The Politics of Housing? Steve Brown the Community Activ

Postby ShaneDog » Tue Apr 13, 2004 4:15 pm

Steve 'I live on the backs of poor students' Brown wrote:Here's the problem. Freshman enrollment has been decreasing or holding steady for 15 years, and there are no plans to increase it. Despite no demonstration of need, however, the UW wants to add 720 to 850 new beds to its residence halls capacity (that is over and above the more than 950 new beds being proposed to replace beds lost when Ogg Hall is demolished in 2007).

I may be wrong but I was under the impression that there are more people who apply to live in University Housing than are accepted. This means there is a shortage. Also, again I might be wrong but I thought the new capacity is to replace Ogg Hall which is slated to be torn down and not replaced.

This excess capacity will, in my opinion, increase housing costs for students, negatively affect campus-area real estate values and could ultimately cost Madison property taxpayers money.

If there are more people who want to live in University Housing than are accepted, there is a shortage. Thus, this increase would not be excess capacity. Also, who cares if it negatively affects campus-area real estate values? That would be a good thing, making rental units and owner-occupied housing more affordable. Sounds like a plus to me...unless you're a landlord. Considering that 99% of us are renters/owners and not landlords, this benefits 99% of people to the detriment of the 1% or less who are landlords. I disagree with his contention that replacing that eyesore we call "University Square" with a larger, modern, building would negatively affect real-estate values. More likely it would increase the property values. Also, that would be another huge building added to the property tax roles.

Let's start with the impact on students. Wisconsin resident tuition has more than doubled in the past decade. On top of that added burden, UW-Madison proposes to build housing that will cost students even more than they are paying now.
One estimate is the cost of a basic double-occupancy bed in the new University Housing units would skyrocket from $5,170 to nearly $7,700. And the price would go up unless they can fill every bed. And because lower-cost, equal-quality private housing is abundantly available, it seems unlikely that every bed will be full unless students are required to live in UW housing (they currently are not).

Who did that estimate? Those numbers sound really high and I doubt their validity without seeing where he got them. Also, what is he worried about. If his private residence halls are equal in quality and lower in price, as he claims, he should benefit from the building of this residence hall because it will be more expensive and more people will choose to live in his res. halls instead of the expensive ones run by University Housing.

His editorial is full of mistakes, flawed logic and just plain lies. I hope no one takes this guy seriously. He contradicts his own statements several times. He needs to go back to landlord school.
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Postby jjoyce » Tue Apr 13, 2004 4:33 pm

Steve Brown should be consulted on student housing at about the same time I ask Steve Jobs what kind of computer I should buy.
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Postby PopeOnFire » Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:13 pm

That's funny Jason, and about sums up that long-ass post of mine in one sentence.


Let's not forget that this poor guy already rooked the city of madison out of almost a million dollars in tax revenue last year due to his LLC shell games.

Come on Steve-O, you know how the market works. Competitive pricing and Features, Advantages, Benefits.




uote="jjoyce"]Steve Brown should be consulted on student housing at about the same time I ask Steve Jobs what kind of computer I should buy.[/quote]
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Postby buckyor » Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:17 pm

Timing is everything. . . . .

Earlier this afternoon I got an email from one of my colleagues asking for help with student housing. Apparently someone they know has been admitted to UW but is on the waiting list for the dorms; they've been informed that it is unlikely they will get in. I wonder if this person thinks there are too many dorm rooms available.
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Postby roadkill bill » Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:46 pm

Since Steve Brown has provided his estimate of how much students will have to pay to live in the new dorms, how about if he posts how much students currently pay to live in his dorms. They're cheaper, huh? Then he should have no problem getting tenents.

By the way - was he crying foul when the high rise, luxury student bldgs went up on University Ave? Or is he only upset when the University tried to step on his territory?

God forbid he or another landlord would have to fix up some of his crappy other apartments to attract renters. :roll:
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Postby snoqueen » Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:57 pm

I would have been more impressed with his honesty if Steve Brown had said, "I own XXX number of student living units in the campus area and rent them at an average rent of YYY, which is (lower/higher) than what students pay now to live in a dorm. If the UW builds new units and rents them at ZZZ dollars, students will (flock to my units/flee my units). Check out my rental units at (addresses) and see if you prefer your sons and daughters living there or in the dorms."

Steve B. wrote:One estimate is the cost of a basic double-occupancy bed in the new University Housing units would skyrocket from $5,170 to nearly $7,700. And the price would go up unless they can fill every bed. And because lower-cost, equal-quality private housing is abundantly available, it seems unlikely that every bed will be full unless students are required to live in UW housing (they currently are not).


I take this to mean a two-person one bedroom unit yields the UW a gross income of $10,340 ($5170 x 2) per 9-months term, or $1148/mo.

By his own reasoning, Steve ought to come out just fine as long as he keeps his own rents reasonable (or under $1148/mo/person, which doesn't strike me as all that reasonable). His apartments aren't as new as something that hasn't even been built yet, right? If he's had them longer, he's paying the bank on an older mortgage and probably has a bit of equity if he's managed things right. Why does he expect the UW to back off and make things easy for him? Buy good properties, maintain them well, set fair rents, treat people right, and you'll have tenants. This isn't some decaying mill town in North Carolina. We have one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. If you can't keep up, sell your properties, take your profits, and find something else to do.

And the idea more dorms will lower property values is off the mark. Property values in the downtown haven't dropped in 30 years. The logic of this article was poorly constructed and unconvincing in so many ways I've barely scratched the surface.

Be honest, dude. You're whining.
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Postby Aphrodite » Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:25 pm

Here's a thought for you, landlord Steve Brown: fix up your run down, flea ridden crappy residences, especially the two and three flats, turn them into condos, and sell them to people who would like to own their own home, but can't afford a single family home now that Madison housing prices have soared. Increase our owner occupancy in some of these classic neighborhoods. And if you're truly a good citizen, don't burn the market with them, just offer them at a fair price.

I wanted to buy a 2 flat with a friend, in an effort to create our own affordable housing...split costs, you know...and guess what, almost none of them come up on the market--instead they're held tightly by landlords who let them become run down and rent to college students. Many of the ones that do change hands are not even advertised. And the ones I did see were in such bad shape, that for a busy person like myself were just intimidating to consider buying.

How great it would be to see Jenifer and Spaight street become a haven for singles, families, and the elderly who would like to own their own flat in a tight-knit community, rather than for student renters being gauged by landlords. And how great to see these old victorians restored to their original beauty.

Anyone out there interested in helping to start a non-profit to buy these things up, renovate them, and turn them back over to the community to first-time buyers, single families, retired people, etc?
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Postby Aphrodite » Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:25 pm

i'm serious about the non-profit idea
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Postby Thusnelda » Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:49 pm

This has little to do with Steve himself, but creating more space in the dorms is one huge thing the university could do to improve regional diversity. I'm speaking mainly of the fact that, as Wisconsin students are given preferences for res hall spots, the Coasties and other out-of-staters will continue to live in the private dorms while the Packer-lovin' corn-fed Lutherans will continue to live in WASPish splendor.
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Postby hotshot » Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:57 am

"This excess capacity will, in my opinion, increase housing costs for students..."

And here I thought excess supply lowered costs, not increased costs, because providors have to compete harder.

Anyway, Madison should ban housing monopolies. There should be a limit on the amount of housing an invidual or corporation can own or run.

Also, living in dorms suck. If you want to learn, learn about leases, housing, neighbors, buying food, neighborhoods .... Dorms are an extention of life under parents, or a crutch to meeting people. If I was an employer and two otherwise equally qualified applicants came to me, one with four years living in various apartments, the other babysat in a dorm, I know which applicant I'd have more confidence in dealing with real life problems.
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Postby Aphrodite » Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:41 pm

hotshot wrote:"
Anyway, Madison should ban housing monopolies. There should be a limit on the amount of housing an invidual or corporation can own or run.


I totally agree. Its amazing how few people own a major chunk of Madison rental property. This would make a lot of properties turn over and be available to people who want to buy them and live there, or who want to establish group living arrangements, co-buy with friends, etc.
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Postby NathanAllen » Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:25 pm

I remember paying over $540 a month to share an 8x10 room with another person, share a bathroom with 30 other men, be evicted over winter break, and eat food that would make inmated sick.

University Housing is a brutal machine, Stevie isn't in it for the "people" but then again neither is the university.

That said, the reason that his rentals are down are because of the explosion of high rises near campus area. Would people rather live in his off-campus dorms or have their own apartment? hmm...
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