A wife dropping off her husband at a bus stop, a father walking his daughter to day care and a serviceman cutting grass around the local park — a morning stroll around Purdue Village feels more like a suburban neighborhood than a traditional dormitory, but time is ticking for the community as demolition closes in.
Maria, a Purdue Village resident who requested to be referenced by her first name because her husband is a doctoral student in the Polytechnic Institute, said her family moved in May, and she was notified her apartment would be demolished just weeks before she moved in.
“They are going to demolish 16 buildings next year and the rest (the year after that),” she said, referencing emails she and her friends have received from the University.
Some residents say they don’t mind the apartments located on the west side of campus, north of Purdue Airport and just south of the Purdue West Shopping Plaza.
“Before I (came), my friends told me ... if you are a family, Purdue Village is the best because of the safety element,” said Ekramy Sayedahmed, long-time resident and former doctoral student in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Your kids will have a lot of space around the house, and money-wise, you are paying one package, electricity and Internet. It’s better — it’s from the University.”
Linete Taina, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said she likes the Village because of its community feel.
“It feels like a real community,” she said. “It has that apartment-style feeling; it feels more like a home than a two-person dorm like Shreve.”
Purdue trustee Gary Lehman provided reasoning for the closure.
“Purdue Village is extremely old,” Lehman said. “(We questioned), ‘Is that the best location and utilization of that property?’”
The Patty Jischke Early Care and Education Center and the Purdue Village Preschool are also closing down, but a new Purdue University Child Care Center is planned to open in 2020, according to Purdue’s Human Resources website.
Looking at the bigger picture
Purdue Village is one of the most affordable places on campus. For graduate students, a family apartment with two bedrooms and a bathroom is $785 monthly including utilities, according to University Residences. For undergraduates, a four-person suite including a full kitchen, washer, dryer and living room is $4,846 per person per academic year.
“If you want to rent an apartment in West Lafayette, like in this area — same apartment, two bedrooms, one bathroom — it will cost you $1,300 per month,” Maria said after looking for places in West Lafayette.
Erik Carlson, West Lafayette’s director of development, is putting the economics into perspective.
“There’s a very tight housing market here in West Lafayette,” Carlson said. “That’s why we’ve had here, in the last month, more than 2,500 student beds come online, which will help create more supply to meet the demand that we have. The hope is that there will be more affordable options for those who can’t afford to rent at the higher levels.”
Carlson has put a pause on approving major off-campus student housing developments in the near future.
“It is our task to look at the community as a whole,” Carlson said. “We’ve ... called a pause on approving new, large-scale developments — those aimed at student housing ― because price per acre of these properties were selling at the level you would expect to see in Manhattan, or other major international cities, and so we were concerned about an inflation of prices and a gold rush on the land.”
Carlson is focusing efforts on developing more low-income options in the city.
“We have taken a focus on a wide variety of options and are continuing to work with people,” Carlson said. “And as we get to a point when we can look at new housing options, we don’t want to see just very expensive apartments. We need to see how these new buildings lease up, what are the ripple effects in the community and where we were as in vacancy rates in the community before we consider new housing.”
History of change
Purdue Village was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s under the name of Married Student Housing, according to the Purdue Village website. The name was changed to better fit the communal nature of the area, according to previous reporting from The Exponent. In the past, the community center has hosted English supplemental classes, CAPS and a food pantry.
The area has adapted to Discovery Park District construction in the past, as Purdue Village apartments north of Nimitz Drive were destroyed in 2002, according to previous reporting from the Exponent.
The Village was renovated in 2008. Five buildings were demolished to make room for a new community center and a child care center.
It currently contains 600 apartments with 12 to 16 units in a building.
Plans in the works
The Board of Trustees is aware of the need for more lower-priced student housing.
“This problem is challenging because the construction costs are so high. Even private companies would not do it for how low (of) rent the graduates want to pay,” Lehman said, referring to current Purdue Village rates.
The demolition of Purdue Village is all part of a larger campus master plan released last year.
According to the Giant Leaps Master Plan website, the main tenets of the master plan focus on open space, greenery and cohesive campus identity.
There are no finalized plans for what will replace Purdue Village. In the meantime, the Purdue Research Foundation is planning the construction of a residential district called Provenance in the Discovery Park District. The project is expected to help attract businesses to Discovery Park by providing a variety of housing options on the west side of campus.
The University is in the process of building two new residence halls, currently called Third Street North and Meredith South. Aspire at Discovery Park is a newly opened addition to UR Boiler Apartments, which the University contracts to meet housing needs.
However, trying to fulfill affordable student housing needs for families and those who want more independent living options is taking time.
“We’ll come up with some solutions,” Lehman said. “Complex problems take a little more time than simple ones.”