The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Apartment-style complex east of campus will house juniors and seniors

Alexandra Bodelle
Location of the new Catamount Woods apartment complex Sept 2.

UVM announced its intentions to build a new apartment complex on campus for planned occupancy in Fall 2025, in an Aug. 14 press release

Catamount Woods will be the product of a partnership between UVM and AAM 15 Management LLC, according to the press release.

“I think it’s going to be a really good option for students,” said Richard Cate, vice president for finance and administration at UVM. “They have the combination of helping to alleviate the housing problem in the area along with the fact that we’ve provided a new type of option for students.” 

The Catamount Woods housing will be located near the southern part of Centennial Woods in the current location of a parking lot adjacent to the Hilton DoubleTree on Williston Road, and will house approximately 540 undergraduates, according to the press release.

Catamount Woods will be primarily for juniors and seniors with some opportunities for sophomores, Cate said. 

Cate said that Catamount Woods will be an apartment complex most similar in style to the Redstone Lofts, with rooms being mostly triples with some doubles and quads.

Cate said that the University will not use tuition dollars to pay for the construction of Catamount Woods as part of the deal with AAM 15. 

“The University is going to invest in the property, but we’ll be getting our money back over time,” he said. “The mortgage […] will not be on the university’s books, [AAM 15] will hold the mortgage. So, we’re doing this in a way where it won’t financially burden the University and the students.”  

The money invested in Catamount Woods by the University will come from cash that is currently invested in a bank and will be returned at some point over the next ten years, Cate stated in a Sept. 15 email. 

“It’s like you are putting your money into a stable bond portfolio or something like that and getting your money back after a period of time,” he said. 

Cate said that he expects the University will have more detailed plans regarding Catamount Woods in January or February of 2024. 

Cate said that the University will be working on solutions to make the street crossings on East Avenue and Main Street safer for students who live in Catamount Woods.

“We certainly are going to be looking at the crossing on each avenue to make sure that there’s a good way for students to safely get to the main campus,” he said. “It hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet, but we’re working on it.”

The amount of housing being taken up by students in Burlington has reduced the inventory available for Burlington residents and raised rental costs significantly throughout the city, according to a May 25, 2022 Seven Days Article.  

Cate said that the University sees the addition of Catamount Woods as a means to ease housing difficulties in Burlington. 

“Obviously, housing is very tight in Burlington,” he said. “This will provide an opportunity and also, hopefully, provide a little bit more slack so things aren’t as tight in Burlington. One project won’t do that, but it does contribute to assisting with the problem.” 

In February, a Vermont State House bill was introduced that aimed to place a cap on student enrollment until the rental vacancy in Burlington reaches 5%, according to a Feb. 24 Cynic article. The bill is currently in committee, according to the legislature’s website.

In the Feb. 24 Cynic article, Enrique Corredera, then executive director of news and public affairs for the University, provided a statement saying the University was not planning to increase student enrollment. 

“We believe the University is in the best position to determine the enrollment level that serves the needs of our students and allows us to fulfill our land grant mission for the benefit of Vermont,” Corredera stated in the article. “At present, we are at a sustainable ‘right size’ for UVM, and we have no plans to grow beyond the current number of new students.”

Cate said that the University still does not have any plans to increase enrollment.

“This is not about increased enrollment,” he said. “It really is about trying to provide more opportunity for the students we’ve got.”

The University is looking at the possibility of creating more apartment-style housing in the area of Catamount Woods, Cate said. 

“It’s almost like we’re creating an East Campus, of sorts,” he said. “I expect at some point there’ll be a continuation of more housing coming in this direction but we haven’t got that all wired out yet.”

Cate said that he expects the University to focus on building more apartments in the future instead of traditional dormitories.

“I don’t expect we’ll build more dorms,” he said. “I expect what we build in the future will pretty much be apartments.”

Cate said that he thinks the University does have a role to play in the Burlington housing crisis. 

“I think we certainly have a responsibility to do our fair share,” he said. “The community at large, the private sector all have that responsibility.”

Steven Murray, executive director of the Burlington Housing Authority, said that the BHA is in favor of any increase in housing due to the benefits it brings for Burlington residents, especially low-income housing. 

“Any increase in inventory will take a load off of the market here and will probably help bring rents down and help bring the vacancy rates a little bit higher,” he said.

Increased housing for college students frees up inventory for Burlington residents who participate in programs provided by the BHA, Murray said.

“All of our program participants would have a greater opportunity of actually finding an apartment using their Section Eight Voucher,” he said. 

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally-funded program that allows low-income families, elderly and disabled people to receive a housing subsidy from their local public housing agency that is paid directly to their landlord to assist with rent costs, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.

Murray said Catamount Woods could benefit all of Burlington as long as increased University housing capacity is not followed by increased enrollment numbers. 

“I applaud the University if they’re not using it to increase their enrollment and they’re doing it to take the pressure off of housing and Burlington,” he said. “It’s an absolute win for the whole community.” 

Murray said that another concern he has is the level of student interest in continuing to live on campus as a junior or senior.

“We just have to be cognizant of the fact that there has to be buy-in from the student body that living on campus is better for them,” he said. 

Junior Maya Carpenter said that she is in favor of Catamount Woods due to the increased options for housing it provides for upper-level undergraduates. 

“I think that it’s good, because finding housing was difficult for me,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea to provide more close and safe housing for students.” 

Carpenter also said that she wouldn’t mind the walking distance from Catamount Woods to Central Campus.

“There’s a lot of far housing, so if this is an easy, walkable distance then that’s a good idea,” she said. 

Junior Robin Nelson said that she also likes the planned addition of Catamount Woods due to its close proximity to campus. 

“I would want to live there because it’s not too far from campus,” she said. “The class sizes have also gotten bigger, so I think the more housing, the better.”

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