Development leaves behind victims as enrollment grows

On the surface, the conceptual future of the university community seems rosy: As UK grows and becomes a top-20 research school, enrollment increases, bringing growth to the surrounding neighborhoods and, ultimately, creating a thriving college town.

But as the impending demolition of the Ingleside Mobile Home Park near campus demonstrates, expansion often incurs a human cost — one that is all too often forgotten once the new foundation is poured.

The families at Ingleside were told in January that the property had been sold and that they had to leave by mid-March to make way for a new apartment complex designed for students, the Kernel reported Tuesday. Residents who left their mobile homes to be demolished were told they would be paid $1,000; those who were able to move their trailers and chose to do so would receive nothing.

Although a court order halted the demolition plans until developer Neal Evans obtains the necessary permits, the construction of the 168-unit, 504-bedroom Devonshire Apartments complex appears inevitable.

As the owner of the property, Evans has the right to evict the residents, who rent their spaces at Ingleside, and the city has already approved the necessary zoning changes.

The need for the development itself is understandable, and given its location, Ingleside’s 6.8-acre lot is ideal for building the off-campus housing that will be needed as UK’s enrollment grows.

The aging mobile home park, built in the 1940s, has been deteriorating in recent years. The city has condemned more than 50 mobile homes since 2000, and when Evans bought the property, only 18 families were still living there. Building an apartment complex on what was becoming an abandoned lot will be a more efficient use of that land.

That does not, however, change the fact that the residents of Ingleside are being pushed out of their homes and unjustly reimbursed very little for the associated hardships. Without more financial help, some of the residents will be unable to find a new place to live that isn’t inferior to their old mobile homes.

The idea of the “poor college student” is seemingly ubiquitous at UK and elsewhere. But as students go apartment hunting in the upcoming months, they should be mindful that growth has casualties, and too often they are people far more impoverished than the vast majority of university students.