The Edge

The Edge Apartments and Townhomes are among one of the most coveted residential communities in Blacksburg due to their proximity to campus and downtown, as well as their spacious layout and access to amenities such as the pool and gym. However, these perks come with a price — specifically, a hefty $800 a month in rent.

On Thursday, March 17, the university hosted a meeting between the town of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech students, faculty and staff on “the affordable housing puzzle.

Matt Hanratty, assistant to the town manager of Blacksburg, presented the town’s strategies to expand affordable rentals and home ownership. The presentation also included increasing the availability of homes for non-student residents and allocating locations specifically for students’ off-campus housing.

One concern among the Virginia Tech audience was the difficulty for students to afford off-campus housing both on low income or with parental assistance.

“For graduate students on stipends or student loans, affordable housing is becoming harder to find. The University has no immediate plans for building new graduate housing on any of the campuses,” said Phil Miskovic, a Ph.D. student with the Center for Public Administration and Public Affairs and the current graduate student representative to the Board of Visitors. “It is necessary for stakeholders to collaborate to find solutions to affordable graduate housing for each campus.”

Alice Fox, a student in the Science and Technology Studies Ph.D. program and the vice president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, expressed her frustrations on the lack of inexpensive quality off-campus housing for Virginia Tech students.

“Students shouldn’t be seen as a supply and demand problem. They’re human beings, and we need to look at them as people in vulnerable positions, especially as we start to get more community members who are from marginalized or low income backgrounds,” Fox said. “We can have nice things like full kitchens and good amenities without having to pay a thousand dollars per room.”

Hanratty concluded the meeting by stating his sympathy with Fox’s concerns, and that the town of Blacksburg was working to solve these issues.

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(1) comment

Adam

I would encourage VT to undertake an ambitious planning process to develope the Squires Student Center surface parking lot downtown. It's proximity to our downtown retail and arts district, the core of the VT campus, mass transit, and walkability make it a no-brainer for a Graduate Residential Mixed-Use Building. Imagine, the College Ave & Otey St. street-level would house retail/restaurants with sidwalk cafes. 2nd floor space would house flex office/study/work/studio spaces. 3rd to 6th or 7th floor would house Graduate Apartments for Graduate Couples & Families. Built as a U-shape residences would overlook College, Otey, and Downtown to the East. In the core of the building complex would be multiple-level parking that is essentially screened from view by the residential building. It would provide parking for Residents, Staff, Zip Car Rentals, Bikes, and a ground level of parking for day-pass visitors. The site has a very large foot print and a multi-story building could theoretically hold probably up to 150 Residential Apartments (not dorm style rooms). A well-designed building would feature industrial style awnings providing cover along College and Otey; could have a large landscaped roof for families, a dog run, and outdoor space that is reserved for residents and their guests. This would also in-fill a very large gap in the College Ave streetscape that would unify the intersection of VT and Downtown. Hopefully this comment can be elevated to be seen by VT eyes who see the value and sheer logic of placing high-quality Graduate and Graduate Family Residential on this site.

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