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Letter to the Editor: ASU's Mirabella project is a missed opportunity for shared housing

Mirabella could further brighten its residents’ lives

letter to the editor graphic

 "Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.

ASU’s new Mirabella project, which is set to build over 250 senior living condominiums at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive, is a missed opportunity for shared housing between young students and senior residents. 

Housing both the older and the younger in the same space has found success in Europe and could find success in America, too. If ASU wants to keep innovating, we can do more than build pricey senior living condos on the corner of campus closest to the bars.

The model could be as cozy as housing an 18-year-old biology major in the same apartment as an 81-year-old retired biologist, or as simple as alternating units between college students and seniors. 

The first scenario could result in a subsidized or free rent for the younger of the roommates, which would be an attractive option for a lot of students. In exchange for playing music more quietly and keeping the kitchen a little cleaner, a college student could save money on rent and have a wise, experienced roommate to keep them company. 

Not every college student participates in party and drinking culture, and some students could benefit from the care of a senior roommate.

The Mirabella project plans to allow the residents to audit classes at ASU. I have a coworker who audits my Arabic class, and to be frank, it’s odd to share a classroom with someone who can show up when he or she wants to and doesn’t have to take the exam. Mirabella residents may not be received with open arms by professors or by their potential classmates. 

While Mirabella residents may enjoy picking up a new language or taking a walk down memory lane, the interaction with the University ends when the senior leaves the classroom.

A more valuable option, or complement, to auditing would be shared housing. 

According to Mental Health America, over two million seniors have depression. Seniors would have the opportunity to build quality relationships with young adults, providing a source of energy and youth into their lives, especially if the senior is without children or grandchildren.

Students who would rather avoid noisy, alcohol-drenched apartment complexes would gain a trusted grandfather or grandmother figure in their lives. A shared housing project would provide the opportunity for students to interact with the new building and its residents. 

Without student involvement in a direct, personal way, Mirabella may become just a foreign obstruction on the northwest end of campus no more valuable to students than the empty building that currently occupies the spot.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Bryan Pietsch, a business and journalism sophomore at ASU.

Reach the author at or follow @bryan_pietsch on Twitter. 

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