A New Skyline for Champaign: An Urban Dormitory Transformed

Rolf Pendall, Natalie Prochaska, Dustin Allred, Caitlin Hillyard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Like many university cities, Champaign, Illinois, has recently experienced a surge in student housing in its Campustown neighborhood, with 25 developments and over 2500 new housing units built from 2008 to 2019. Four of the new buildings exceed 10 stories, far denser and more imposing than the Campustown of only two decades ago. The local conventional wisdom holds that this growth resulted from loosened zoning restrictions, an explanation we reject. Instead, our interviews and document analysis reveal a more complex interplay of infrastructure investment, university enrolment policies, developer decision-making, and investment capital. Our analysis shows how government, developer, and university stakeholders interacted with one another in what Norton Long called the local ecology of games, updating Campustown into a student dormitory for a larger and more elite student body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHousing Policy Debate
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Upzoning
  • ecology of games
  • land use
  • parking
  • real estate
  • student housing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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