Office of Planning Wants 100% of GU Undergrads in GU-Housing by Fall 2016

Yesterday, the Office of Planning issued its report on Georgetown University’s ten year campus plan. And it’s a doozy. The screaming highlight is that OP is recommending that GU house 100% of undergrads in GU-housing by the fall of 2016.

In case you’re just joining us, in GU’s proposed campus plan, it proposes to cap its traditional undergrad at 6,652. In addition, it proposes to increase its overall cap (i.e. undergrad plus grad) to 15,000. This would represent an increase of approximately 1,000 (they originally proposed 16,133, but pulled it back in its pre-hearing submission).

OP supports GU growing its overall caps, however with graduated (no pun intended) increases. The reports calls for the total to remain at current numbers for the next two academic years. In 2013 it would rise by about 500 and then afterwards, if GU meets certain conditions, the total would rise by another 500 or so. So the end result would be about 1,000 new graduate students, which is roughly what GU was requesting, minus the phase in.

If GU is mildly perturbed about the overall cap conditions, they’re probably livid about the undergrad requirements. As stated above, OP wants GU to house 100% of traditional undergrad students in GU-housing by the fall of 2017. This would also be phased in.

As previously agreed to by the university, OP calls for the school to build an additional 250 beds on campus by the fall of 2014. By the fall of 2015, OP calls for GU to house 90% of its undergrads in GU housing. By the fall of 2016, the requirement is 100%. If GU doesn’t meet that requirement, OP wants GU’s undergrad cap to be cut annually by 25% of the difference between the cap and the number of beds until it meets the 100% mark.

Oh, and that additional GU housing? It can’t be built east of 37th st. (i.e. the campus gates, which is not the campus boundary). No housing can be in the 20007 zip code. GM believes there are about 1,500 GU undergrads not living in GU housing. So after GU adds the 250 that it has already agreed to, it needs to build roughly an additional 1,250 beds by 2016.

GU would have a couple options to satisfy this. First, it could find space for more beds behind the gates (one idea GM heard was to build a dorm on top of Leo dining hall, but he doesn’t know if that is feasible). Second, GU could buy housing for its students outside the 20007 zip code, in other words: Rosslyn.

All in all, it’s a pretty devastating report for GU and GM is simply floored by it. But there are still a lot of “ifs”. Most critically, while the Zoning Commission is often deferential to the Office of Planning, it’s not a guarantee they’d go along with this severe of a proposal. One factor that is definitely not an “if” is the question of what happens if the Zoning Commission adopts OP’s report: years of litigation.

And that’s not exactly home court (pun also not intended) for the anti-GU crowd. They eventually lost GU’s last appeal. Further, while the courts have rejected various universities’ claims that student caps violate the DC Human Rights Act, the court hemmed and hawed a bit before reaching that conclusion. The court might reach a different conclusion if presented with these more severe conditions.

Either way, this is a huge bombshell in this battle, and it fell squarely on GU.



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16 responses to “Office of Planning Wants 100% of GU Undergrads in GU-Housing by Fall 2016

  1. RNM

    While the proposed 100% housing of undergrads is probably a non-starter…it does raise an interesting corollary. What would that sort of seismic shift do to property values in the west village? Imagine the glut of rental properties that would flood the market for sale, how much downward pressure would that put on the micro market?

    It isn’t like the student population would cease to move through the neighborhood, so it is always going to be a vibrant and young part of the city…with the expected clashes between cultures of say student hours vs professional hours. Would rental properties have to find a new market, given the glut that would be on the market for sale? Would that market then be a young professional, say just out of college crowd?

    If that was the case, would the area effectively be trading one group that they may not mesh well with long term residents for another group that won’t mesh well with long term residents, and in the process loosing the whipping boy of Georgetown University and its ability to apply pressure to restrain behavior. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. I for one would much rather call a SNAP line than try to personally deal with a house full of inebriated young adults or try to track down a landlord (who we all know doesn’t care as long as the rent is on time). Would MPD become the front line in neighbor vs neighbor conflicts. Is that a good use of our city resources?


  2. heynerdlinger

    Writing as someone without any real skin in this particular game, it seems to me that the off-campus GU students that exhibit problem behavior also seem to believe (or at least act) that they are not subject to the ordinances set by the city (i.e., they act like they live on-campus, even though they don’t).

    In my own experience, non-student residents (even of similar ages) tend to have a much different relationship with their neighbors and/or the police. Yes, there’s some value in having the University a central point of “control” of the off-campus students’ behavior, but it also seems like the University has been ineffectual in this role, and maybe MPD would be better suited for it. The control that University supposedly provides also provides an additional layer of insulation from the “real world” that seems to protect these students from any real consequences.

  3. Anonymous

    I guess Georgetown University will be the first American university to also serve as a concentration camp for its students. Now THAT’s an enlightened approach.

  4. GeorgeM

    To RNM’s point: what if the community gets its wish and all GU undergraduates are now securely locked behind Healy Gate and the student-priced housing in western Georgetown is filled with students from GWU and American? What leverage will the ANC have then?

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  6. asuka

    There’s plenty of demand for housing in that area. “Student Specials” regularly sell for $600k, then get totally gutted for a $300k renovation. If all the students disappeared tomorrow, there would be a small inventory correction, with things back to normal within a year.

  7. Anonymous

    Plenty more room for UDC and Catholic U. kids, too.

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  10. Georgetown Resident

    Would the rule apply to “non-traditional” students as well (i.e. students who are older than 22, or are married, or have kids, etc)?

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  12. RNM

    To Asuka:

    Have you tried to sell a home in the west side of Georgetown lately? First off, you numbers are way off on both the going rate for even the most rundown house…I haven’t seen anything move in the 600K range for years. In fact if you know of someone looking to sell a property for 600K I can pay cash. And if you want to talk about costs involved in doing a gut out remodel or the time involved going through the convoluted and ridiculous permit process well, again I question your numbers.

    Lets take a real world example of a house in a mixed block of rentals and owner occupied on the west side. My neighbors moved in to what we will call the “fertility house” (as every young couple that moved in there in the last decade would pop out two kids and then feel the need to move)…they listed their house at granted a very difficult time in the real estate market and didn’t so much as get a bite. This was for a house that was turn-key in great shape and even had a legal basement rental unit to help with mortgage. Ultimately they found it was better to rent the property out and be landlords from their new home on the other side of Wisconsin Ave.

    Respectfully, if there was such a demand to own housing in this area…the properties would sell with or without the change on campus. If you are suggesting that it is the student neighbors that are the issue…well, it isn’t like they are going to leave the community. You are still going to have the packs of students wandering by at all hours. You may not have parties pop up next door…but then again, I as a 20 year resident throw plenty of parties and if you don’t like that I have people over until four in the morning…well there is no real recourse short of calling the police. Living next to students you have the arm of the University to help you, and again in my 20 years living next door to students it has come a long way and is much better than it used to be. I remember seeing paddy wagons roll up weekly 20 years ago…now if there is an issue a quick call and it is generally dealt with in 10 minutes. Oh, and if a neighbor called the police on me…I assure you I would find a way to legally make their life a living hell, run down their property value and be a bad neighbor for life. Good fences make good neighbors…the University off campus programs such as SNAP are good fences. Be careful what you ask for…you might get it…and you might just find out it is worse…or maybe the problem isn’t the other people.

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