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Students React To WVU's Proposed Sunnyside Sale

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MORGANTOWN -

News about West Virginia University's interest in purchasing homes in the Sunnyside area of Morgantown has spread throughout the neighborhood.

The University said the purchase would enable the school to meets its 2020 plan for student housing.

In October, the Board of Governors announced its interest in adding more than 1,500 beds to university housing, but those plans may leave some students looking for new homes.

"Everyone likes living downtown, on Grant, (street) and Beverly (Avenue) because it's close to campus. I don't know what they're going to do," said Sunnyside resident David Slonski. "They said they're going to do student housing, apartments, but who knows."

For Sunnyside residents, hearing that their homes may be gone next year has stirred up emotions.

"We love living here you know, a lot of my friends have said they're pretty upset because they love living here," said resident Jay Gould.

Sunnyside's access to campus has made it one of the most popular student neighborhoods, but its reputation from the recent riots has some students feeling under attack.

"It's more of a prevention to change the outlook on our school because we have the party school reputation, and Grant Street is well known for that…. But the parties are going to end up somewhere else, you can't stop it, that's just who we are," said Slonski.

On Tuesday, the Board of Governors approved the nearly $15-million purchase plan.

The potential sale involves 42 properties and more than five acres of land, which may benefit the city financially.

"This opportunity, this endeavor may be a tremendous opportunity both the city and the community as a whole," said Morgantown City Manager Terrence Moore.

On the first year alone, Morgantown is projected to profit an extra $1.8 million through taxes and fees.

If the sale is finalized, current residents may be looking for new homes.

"I guess we'll all be forced to live over in Copper Beach or West Run and stuff like that…. If they want to turn it all into dorms, the upperclassmen like us, we're not going to want to be in dorms, with RAs (Resident Assistants) and stuff. We're 21, we're grown adults. We don't want people looking over our shoulder at everything we do," Slonski said.

The University said it will be several days before its makes a comment on the purchase. The closing on the properties could come as soon as Thursday, October 25, but no official closing date is set.