WU purchases new property on Loop

| Contributing Reporter

Last month, Washington University closed on the purchase of another property on the Delmar Loop.

The property, a highly visible building on the northwestern corner of Eastgate Avenue and Delmar Boulevard, now joins the ranks of a number of other properties in the Loop owned by the University, most of which were purchased within the past few years.

According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Operations Steve Hoffner, the building’s exact purpose has yet to be determined.

“We bought it because it’s adjacent to the other buildings Washington University owns in the Loop,” Hoffner said.

The adjacent buildings, Hoffner explains, are currently being used as graduate housing, and owning this new property “will provide greater flexibility in planning in the future.”

The University’s focus on bolstering its presence in the Loop stems from the street’s position as “an important relaxation and entertainment place to Wash. U. students,” Hoffner said.

“We place great importance on it and want to make sure it remains this vibrant,” he said. “[To achieve this], we work closely with the community.”

The University provides patrols to neighborhood security, makes annual contributions to University City police services and hires a community liaison who regularly attends the meetings held by the Loop Special Business District, a union formed by the business owners in the Loop.

Joe Edwards, a participant in this union as owner of Blueberry Hill and the Pageant Theatre—two of the most popular venues on the Loop—is enthusiastic about the community’s collaboration with the University.

“Washington University is a great community partner,” he said. “It has a great view for the future of the area and has made a wonderful statement of dedication to the community by purchasing properties for its North Campus in the Skinker-Delmar-MetroLink triangle. [The purchases by the University] helps stabilize the area by turning unused properties into well-kept ones, and [our partnership with the University] helps build up a wonderful community where everybody feels welcome.”

Edwards believes that this partnership was a significant contributor to the recent naming of the Delmar Loop as one of the 10 great streets in America by the American Planning Association in 2007.

“[The selection was] one of the most exciting outcomes of our partnership [with the University]. It attracted a lot of tourists and travel writers in the past year; articles about Delmar appeared in publications like Time and The New York Times,” Edwards said. “It was an important recognition.”

According to Hoffner, the University has yet to receive any negative feedback in response to its strong presence on the Loop.

Rachel Leibovich, an employee at Coldstone Creamery on the Loop, says that she has only had positive experiences with University students.

“They visit frequently; we even have a couple of regulars. They’re great. We have also fundraised for students in the past,” Leibovich said. “We definitely welcome [the] Wash. U. presence.”

Univerity students are also ready to offer their presence on the Loop.

University alum and first year graduate student Ceyla Erhan said the Loop has always been an important place for her to relax and have fun.

“I come from a very big, vibrant city, so I value having a place like the Loop close by,” Erhan said. “I go there three or four times a week just to hang out. I also pass by it everyday to get to school this year since I live two streets down the Loop.”

Safety is a top priority for someone like Erhan.

“I walk or ride my bike home every day, so it’s important that the Loop is safe. I definitely see a lot of Wash. U. patrols around, perhaps slightly more so in the past few years than this year, but I think it’s safe,” she said.

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