Students criticize new Everly on the Loop development on social media

| Staff Reporter

A number of Washington University students and alumni have taken to social media in recent weeks to criticize the construction, leasing practices and advertising of the new Everly on the Loop housing development.

The majority of the denunciation came on the development’s Facebook page, particularly in the form of negative reviews of the property, which has not opened yet but currently carries a 1.8 out of five star rating, due in large part to these reviews.

Commenters noted their opposition to, among other issues, the perceived misuse of a $12.8 million tax abatement for construction of the property, the marketing of the housing to Washington University students—which many have argued accelerated the gentrification of the Delmar Loop—and the lack of racial diversity in Everly advertising.

In a written statement to Student Life, Dan Oltersdorf, senior vice president of campus relations and residence life at Campus Advantage, the company which manages the Everly property, noted that the staff at the Everly were distressed by the comments.

“We do know that the staff at the Everly is passionate about creating a welcoming and supportive community, and they’ve shared with us that they felt distressed by the sudden string of negative comments about the property,” he wrote.

“We appreciate that those leaving comments are passionate about their concerns,” he added. “Our operational approach is based on both building a strong sense of community for our residents as well as being positive members of the communities in which we operate. All thoughts on how we can work together to achieve this are welcome.”

The Everly Facebook account also responded to a few of the reviews directly on the page, expressing similar sentiments in an identical response which was posted in response to multiple different comments.

“I’m so sorry you have had a negative perception of us, but we are working to provide the best housing option there is to offer in the Delmar Loop area,” the response begins. “At Everly on the Loop, we rent to anyone who qualifies and we are more than happy to share our rental criteria with you.”

The response then went on to describe the various high-end amenities boasted by the development, and encouraged commenters to get in touch with the managers of the property.

For many who voiced their concerns, however, this response exemplifies the problem.

“A huge part of gentrification is bringing in outside development that excludes current residents, and that is exactly what the Everly is being a part of,” former Washington University undergraduate and current Brown School student Nay’Chelle Harris said. “You’re bringing in $1,500 dollar or more apartments when people who live a few blocks away don’t even make that in a month, so it’s pretty obvious that it’s not meant for the people who live there.”

Nancy Yang, a Washington University alumnae who reviewed the development and gave it the worst rating possible, noted that she was open to genuine engagement from Everly management.

“I think it would be great if they genuinely tried to have a conversation and work out real solutions to the problems that students and other community members have raised, but right now it doesn’t really feel like that’s happening,” she said.

In addition to issues of gentrification and unaffordable housing, many on the page raised concerns with the advertising of the development.

“One thing is that it’s marketed as student housing, but it isn’t connected to any university, so that on it’s face is exclusionary, because it makes it seem like ‘if you’re not a student of Saint Louis University, Washington University or any other university, you aren’t welcome there,’” Harris said. “They’re making it very clear that they want well-off college students in their apartments.”

Harris also noted issues with racial diversity in Everly advertising.

“If you look at renderings from their advertisements, a lot of time you see all the residents are white or light skinned, and often the black people are the ones in service positions, so they’re either behind the counter, or holding towels, and they’re obviously not residents,” she said. “That isn’t to say that people of color aren’t welcome in the Everly, but it is to say that the Everly isn’t making it apparent that they want those people there.”

With the Everly already leasing, Harris advocated that students should be informed about their residential choices.

“One of the things students can do is be informed about where they live and not assume that just because you go to Wash. U. you have this monopoly on knowledge,” she said. “Wash. U. often has this reputation in the city for being smug and know-it-alls and I think it falls on all of us to realize that while we’re at this University, especially if we’re not from St. Louis, we need to humble ourselves, and we need to look out to and engage with people in the city.”

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