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Change coming to Y. housing

Displacement of young families from Wyview Park worries some couples

Bethany Baynes and her baby daughter, Abby, use the playground area Thursday at BYU's Wyview Park.
Bethany Baynes and her baby daughter, Abby, use the playground area Thursday at BYU's Wyview Park.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — Brigham Young University is planning major housing changes that will change the future of key properties on and off campus, the Deseret Morning News has learned.

First, half of the families living in the Wyview Park married student housing complex on campus must leave by July 2006 to make way for single students. The remainder must leave by the following July.

The transition will allow BYU to vacate Deseret Towers as university planners continue to consider what to do with the on-campus landmark, which has become a dinosaur.

Second, BYU has reached a deal with a proposed off-campus housing complex to rent solely to BYU students. The 159 condominiums at the new Alpine Village are expected to be complete by fall 2007, developer Ray Walker said.

The village would be located where the old vacant Reams store — the domed Provo landmark — stands on the corner of Freedom Boulevard and Paul Ream Avenue.

"We've been involved in an extensive review of our housing as we create our master plan, and we're looking at the needs of our students," BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. "We're seeing less of a demand for on-campus married housing, and we're seeing a real trend in students desiring apartment-style housing."

Jenkins characterized the move of single students from Deseret Towers to Wyview and the exclusive use of an on-campus, private apartment complex as pilot, or test, programs. Married students could someday return to Wyview.

That likely won't happen anytime soon, however. BYU officials have said that renovating Deseret Towers or razing it and building a new apartment-style complex could take a decade.

Wyview residents expressed frustration Thursday after a meeting with university officials.

"There are very few apartment complexes in this area for young families that are fenced in with lawn and play areas for children," said Bethany Baynes, who moved to Wyview in November with her husband Paul, a geography major, and the couple's year-old daughter, Abby.

They planned to stay for three more years. Instead, theirs is one of 192 complexes that must be vacated by July 1, 2006. Single students will move into those apartments a month later. The other 234 complexes will convert to singles housing in July 2007.

Officials told the families they will get first priority at Wymount Terrace, the other, older on-campus family housing complex. Jenkins said Wymount Terrace had a waiting list, but the Wyview Park waiting list that had existed since it was built in the 1990s has disappeared.

"These programs will give us a chance, when we no longer have a waiting list at Wyview Park, to see how students react" to on- and off-campus apartment-style living, Jenkins said.

Baynes said families were informed of the meeting via e-mail just about an hour beforehand. Jenkins said the meeting followed one with university housing personnel and was necessary before the plans were to be rolled out to media today. She said officials met with as many as could make it Thursday and provided letters to every apartment.

"There will be other meetings," she added. "We will keep in constant communication with them during the transition."

Baynes wondered where all the families will find off-campus housing.

"People interested in converting their basements to apartments should start now because there will be a lot of demand," she said.

Jenkins said the 22-month transition out of Wyview should ease the new burden on the off-campus student family market, which currently has vacancies.

"Those are questions we don't have answers to," she said. "It's something we want to look at. Married students don't have to live in (BYU-)approved housing, so there are many options open to them."

Jenkins said the Wyview Park name will be retained. She also said the change is not intended to increase revenue. Only four singles will be allowed to live in each apartment; Wyview consists of two- and three-bedroom apartments.

"The university will not be making any more money from rent from having single students rather than married students at Wyview Park."

The Alpine Village experiment is called "chartered housing." BYU approached Alpine Village in the spring, Walker said, but it is not paying Alpine Village to maintain its complex exclusively for BYU students. The university is interested in perhaps finding a second charter complex.

Alpine Village will also have 12,000-square-feet of retail space with plans for restaurants, a fitness center, a pool, a copy and computer center and a hair salon, Walker said. There is also potential for a convenience store.

Provo's Planning Commission and City Council have provided initial approvals for the project, with the council voting 6-1. Final approvals would come this fall.

The new programs will not derail BYU's proposal to build a 754-resident complex for single students on 800 North, Jenkins said, but that project has stalled because of concerns about parking.