Finally, after over a decade of squabbling, the University of Miami and UM Neighbors’ Homeowners Association came to an agreement to create University Village, a facility comprised of apartments that will house upwards of 800 upperclassmen and grad students.
So, what does it all mean?
On the positive front, a couple things. It’s no secret that on-campus housing is in high demand – at UM and elsewhere – and providing townhouse-style housing will no doubt create a buzz of interest that the community bathrooms in the towers have yet to achieve. Likewise, it will bring more graduate students who previously had to battle through notorious morning traffic closer to campus.
The problem is that UM gets along better with FSU than it does with the Gables. And, keeping in mind that the University Village has been in planning and discussion phases since the days of Miami Vice, it’s a safe bet that construction will not go through without some childish altercations between the school and the city.
What’s worse, there isn’t exactly what I would call an abundance of land around the UM campus, so why would we waste it on two and three-story housing? I know, I know – the Gables would frown even more upon a tower-like structure protruding from the University Village site, but from a common sense standpoint, why not use the $40 million to renovate or restructure the on-campus apartment area?
This is the school’s opportunity to improve the housing that surrounds the notoriously empty Convocation Center, which may be the biggest waste of $50 million I’ve ever seen other than Gigli. Think about it: over the course of a few years, we could have a large, Eaton-like residential college where the apartment area currently stands, a parking garage to help make it look like people actually go to the Convocation Center, and – get this – a good standing relationship with Coral Gables.
Instead of University Village, I propose sorority housing. Given the alternative of 1000 students roaming around University Village, why not give the sororities a legitimate center for activity that isn’t across campus from the frats?
There would still be plenty of room for faculty housing that the current University Village plan calls for. A major social dilemma would be resolved in terms of the sorority housing. The Gables would have fewer students to worry about. The Convocation Center might actually fill to its capacity.
And I’d be filthy rich.
Surrounded by sorority girls, of course.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at