OAKLAND (KDKA) — Carnegie Mellon University’s desire for more student housing is coming up against concerns of local residents in Oakland.
“Clyde Street was always a quiet residential street. Now they want to make it into Animal House,” says Don Sharapan who owns a townhouse on Clyde Street.
Clyde Street is a one-way street that runs off Fifth Avenue right across from Central Catholic High School.
On a CMU parking lot at the corner of Fifth and Clyde, which is less than a mile from the main campus, CMU wants to build a six-story dorm with 265 beds.
“Why don’t they build it on their own campus?” Sharapan said. “They have a lot of room over there on their campus.”
CMU’s Housing Master Plan does show a new Forbes-Beeler dorm on campus with 300 beds to open in August of 2022.
But two new dorms are off-campus, a refurbished Fifth Neville Apartments open to students in August of 2020 and a brand new Fifth-Clyde Residence Hall to open in August of 2021.
“Our house is two-and-a-half stories. This building is going to be towering over us,” one resident told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday. “There will be, based on their plans, there will be 60 windows all facing us and looking down at us.”
Invasion of privacy, noisy students, blocking the sun, and traffic congestion are not the only concerns of these townhouse owners.
“The property values of our homes no doubt are going to go down,” Sharapan said. “Who wants to buy a home right across the street from a dormitory?”
One of the closest neighbors to this proposed new dormitory is Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church.
The monsignor was not available to appear on camera, but he says he shares the concerns of his neighbors.
CMU was not available for an on-camera interview either, but Jason Maderer, CMU spokesperson, did provide a statement to KDKA:
“This new facility will be built at the corner of 5th and Clyde, on the same block as five other residence halls Carnegie Mellon University currently manages. Construction is scheduled to begin in late fall. We are deeply committed to engaging with our neighbors as Carnegie Mellon continues to build a strong relationship with our community. Shortly after beginning our public roll out process about specific plans for the new building in March, we learned that several townhouse owners near the site were unaware of the project. As a result, we arranged a private meeting with them on May 4, spending nearly three hours explaining the plans, answering their questions, and providing assurances that we would continue to regularly communicate with them leading up to, and throughout, the project. The neighbors we met with received public notice from the city in 2015 about multiple meetings held where we unveiled institutional plans to both rezone and to develop a residence hall on the site. Carnegie Mellon strives to build state-of-the-art residence halls that offer a comparative advantage for students, while also providing spaces that foster community building and learning. We strongly believe that providing these university-managed living environments are in best interests of both the student experience and our near-campus neighborhoods.”
But local residents complained that CMU gave them no notice of this particular project.
They say they first learned of it through a city zoning letter they recently received, and through local Councilwoman Erika Strassburger’s office they reached out to CMU.
This Thursday, the city zoning board will hear a request from CMU for a variance to allow the dorm to be built.
The residents tell KDKA that they will be there to object.