The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
After tonight’s City Council meeting, Oxford will likely be getting a new 194 unit, off-campus housing development.
Oxford City Council, bound by a legal technicality, will be forced to approve building the development, despite lack of support for the project.
The development, The Fields at Southpointe, will be on Southpointe Parkway off Route 27, across from existing student housing at Level 27. The space was initially designated for office and industrial use, but has since been rezoned as a residential area.
Along with ample housing availability in the Mile Square, Oxford offers apartment options farther from campus, like Hawks Landing and Level 27. The newest option, Miami Preserve, which was built in 2015, remains roughly three-fourths vacant this year. While there was, at one time, a need for these sorts of homes, that need has been filled. Why keep making more?
When Level 27 was built, a major draw for prospective residents was the promise of a bus route that would shuttle them to and from campus. This BCRTA route doesn’t exist anymore and the current shuttle is inconsistent. There is no definite plan for transportation to and from The Fields at Southpointe.
More students living farther away means more cars driving to campus. If The Fields at Southpointe does not provide transportation, 668 students will need to drive to campus if they don’t want to trek uphill along the shoulder of the highway to get to class. There will be an influx of traffic, especially on Chestnut and Patterson — a problem that has already garnered attention. Our crammed campus parking lots will overflow.
In 2013, David Prytherch, chairman of the Oxford Planning Commission, said Miami was not designed for people to zip onto campus, run an errand and leave.
“It’s a walking campus, and it never has been and never will be easy to drive and park on,” he said.
The presence of these distant housing units — along with the increased car use they cause — will transform the intimate environment of Miami’s campus. These apartment complexes lure students in with marketing gimmicks like pools and workout rooms, but ultimately rob them of the chance to experience life in a truly walkable college town.
The construction of these units also denies us the beauty of nature. The Fields of Southpointe will encroach on what is currently 37 acres of vast, open land, a makeshift nature preserve filled with birds and frogs. Now, tenants of Level 27 can gaze across the way and see the silhouette of a deer walking against the colorful backdrop of a sunset, or listen for crickets chirping at night.
But this will all disappear, as The Fields of Southpointe replaces this view with that of uniform buildings. The natural sounds will be drowned out by those of horns honking and car doors slamming.
Part of what makes Oxford so endearing to students and residents is its location: a haven of sorts, situated in an area otherwise overflowing with farmland stretching as far as the eye can see. But as time goes on, rows of cornstalks get replaced with rows of buildings. Cash crops are replaced with apartment complexes, which sprout up from the ground for the same reason: to earn money.
The difference is the money no longer goes to independent landowners or local people. Instead, it benefits corporations like Trinitas Ventures, who see Oxford as just another small town they can enter, make a profit from and move on.
We fear this is the beginning of the end. Business giants like Trinitas will literally bulldoze their way into our lives, destroying anything in their way. Oxford’s identity as a quaint college town is in jeopardy as it industrializes and expands, losing the community feel in the process.
What does Trinitas know about Oxford? How do they know what students want? We don’t want another housing complex, and what’s more, we don’t need it.
Trinitas Ventures declined comment to The Miami Student until after the City Council meeting tonight. City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Oxford Courthouse, 118 West High Street.