New student housing communities approved near UCF

Orange County commissioners on Tuesday approved three off-campus student housing proposals near UCF that will add more than 3,600 bedrooms.

Each of the projects will redevelop existing sites within a mile of campus. One will replace a church with a 595-bedroom complex. Another, currently housing a Fairwinds Credit Union, will accommodate 626 bedrooms. The largest, The Place at Alafaya, will provide 2,400 bedrooms, replacing a vacant apartment complex from the 1970s.

“We want redevelopment,” said Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla. “I’ve also been encouraging them to get closer to the school so that we have the shuttle ability because we don’t want more traffic on the roads.”

Orlando leads Florida in off-campus student housing projects, according to a recent report, reflecting UCF’s large student population, which now is near 70,000. Enrollment was roughly 40,000 students in 2003.

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The growth in UCF’s enrollment has outpaced available off-campus housing options, prompting hopes that these new developments will help lower costs for students like Jeremy Bellande, a senior who pays around $800 a month for his apartment, one of the more affordable options.

“The prices are getting completely out of hand,” Bellande said. “It’s only getting worse, and especially being a college student, it’s really hard sometimes to pay for all that.”

Many off-campus apartments listed on UCF’s website start around $1,000 per bedroom, with some reaching $1,600 if available.

“You have to sign up for your apartment for the next fall the week before spring break,” Bellande said. “After spring break, you’ll call an apartment complex and they’ll be like, ‘Sorry, we’re already full for the following school year.’ So, obviously, some new housing would very much help out a lot of people who have to go 20-30 minutes away from campus.”

Rebecca Wilson, representing the developer of The Place at Alafaya, believes these additional housing options will also benefit families seeking affordable accommodation near UCF.

“I think we need purpose-built student housing in order to pull students out of the neighborhoods and out of the townhomes,” she said. “We want to get the students out of those types of housing and into this so that stock then becomes available.”

Details on when construction will begin or when these new developments will be ready for occupancy remain uncertain, but updates will follow.

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