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Opinion: Library Should Preserve Housing for Student Population

Lillian Dent Lillian Dent Opinion: Library Should Preserve Housing for Student PopulationPhoto by Walker Evans.
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As a full time CCAD student with a part time job and no car, finding an affordable apartment this summer has been a problem. Our Downtown, like many cities, is quickly becoming a place for only the richest residents, boasting beautiful brownstones on Gay Street and sky-high luxury apartments on Broad. Luckily, a two-bedroom apartment in the ever-so-competitive Grant Oaks building found itself available to my roommate and I.

Grant Oaks, although not perfect, is an amazing apartment in my eyes. It has a simple but effective layout with classic, authentic character. It has hard wood floors and built-in shelving, which can only be found in an older buildings and is a rarity for the mid-level price. The apartments feature outdoor courtyards, and with the Topiary Park and Columbus Metropolitan Library (which currently owns Grant Oaks) next door, it seemed like the perfect fit.

It was to my complete surprise that not long after I had signed my lease, rumors began circling around about the Library’s plans to sell Grant Oaks in 2017. While this was frightening, we were assured that this was not a likely possibility, and that the process of selling would take much longer than six months. The fact that I could possibly be homeless in the middle of the school year was slowly disappearing from my mind until just two days after moving into my apartment in August. Now, the Library is calling for the demolition of Grant Oaks to build more luxury apartments.

This idea frightens, angers and completely bewilders me. In a city where more than a quarter of the available apartments are already deemed “luxury”, why would the Library, which just spent $35 million on a new renovation, demolish 130 great apartments, causing over 200 students to become homeless? Whether or not the Library wants to think of it this way, their plans of demolition would be adding to the gentrification that is already taking place Downtown. This is especially serious when it comes to students because we cannot be pushed out. Our campus will remain Downtown, and we need places to live that we can afford and feel safe in.

This idea is completely unnecessary and seems to be one based in greed. Grant Oaks is a well maintained, beautiful vintage apartment complex, that needs no work what so ever, and tearing it down would only cost more money and be extremely inefficient. There is a long and competitive waiting list every year to get into Grant Oaks. The apartment is successful and needed and is making money.

Libraries are usually seen as a place where the community can come together and learn. Unfortunately, now all I see when I look at the Downtown Library is an establishment riddled with corporate greed and no care for the people who live around them.

– Lillian Dent, Sophomore at Columbus College of Art & Design
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