With University of Alabama student population growing, Tuscaloosa keeps construction ban on student housing

Published 6:17 am Monday, August 16, 2021

City leaders have extended a ban on construction of large student housing developments in the hometown of the University of Alabama, where the mayor expressed concern about overtaxing municipal infrastructure and services.

The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously extended a moratorium that began in January 2019 during a meeting last week, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The prohibition on permits for large-scale student housing projects will last at least until May 2022.
The votes came at the urging of Mayor Walt Maddox, who said more work was needed to create rules and regulations to prevent such developments from becoming a drain on the city of about 101,000.

“We’re also exploring some ideas on how do you fairly assess what these developments are costing in terms of city expenses, but we would appreciate a little bit more time to work through this,” he said.

Bryan Winter, an attorney who has represented developers, said restrictions adopted last year to slow the spread of student housing already have made it difficult to move ahead with projects that will bring jobs and additional tax revenue.

“They’ve already effectively tried to kill any outside investment in Tuscaloosa,” Winter said. “These rules and the moratorium are designed to discourage significant outside investment and revitalization in Tuscaloosa.”

With undergraduate enrollment of more than 32,000, Alabama is one of three higher education institutions in Tuscaloosa, which also is home to the far smaller Stillman College and Shelton State Community College.