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SOU Property Task Force Considers What To Do With Nearby Buildings

SOU Center For Sustainability

Southern Oregon University owns over thirty properties on the fringes of the Ashland campus, and some of them are completely vacant. Given the Rogue Valley’s housing crisis, University leaders are considering turning them into rentals.

If you’ve walked around the edges of the SOU campus, you may have seen a number of houses and other buildings designated as university property. Many are rundown and in need of renovation. A property task force with the university is considering turning these buildings into rentable housing for faculty and students.

University President Linda Schott says that while she understands the need for affordable housing in the Rogue Valley, the university needs to maximize its investments.

“These are SOU properties," said Schott. "We have to determine what is the highest and best use for the university while balancing that with the larger community need.”

Given the amount of renovation needed, it would likely be an expensive project.

Schott says the buildings in the roughest conditions are eyesores that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. They’re deciding whether they should repurpose the properties, sell them, or tear them down.

“It’s not good for the university or for the community to have these boarded up properties, but we don’t have the ability to do it under our current operating revenue," Schott said. "So making decisions that will enable us to tear down or dispose of them to create a better appearance and hopefully house more people.”

Some of these properties would be single family housing units, while others would be multi-family style or possibly commercial.

The university’s Property Task Force has been working with city officials to iron out logistics, but no decisions have been finalized.