Knowing that Virginia Tech is expecting 5,000 new undergraduate students by 2022, Blacksburg approached existing student housing developments to see if they were interested in denser redevelopment.

Blacksburg, like other growing small towns, reasons that the denser redevelopment of existing housing where utility and transportation infrastructure already exist reduces sprawl and its accompanying social and fiscal expense and protects green space. Now, that ratcheting up of density is coming to pass.

In May, Terrace View Apartments, a 13-acre cluster of low-rise townhome apartments at the intersection of busy Patrick Henry and Tom’s Creek Road, submitted a proposal to knock down its 16 buildings that house 198 units and 533 bedrooms and replace them with two, multi-story buildings: Building West with 263 units with 818 bedrooms, and Building East with 233 units with 703 bedrooms.

Each building would wrap around a parking deck. There would be bicycle racks and a small commercial space, attractive landscaping, walkability and public transit access.

Last week, Blacksburg Town Council approved the site’s dense redevelopment, but, in discussion before the vote, several council members voiced their hopes and concerns as the town plans for and responds to a population expansion, driven by university expansion, they cannot control.

Vice Mayor Susan Anderson cited the density as a strategy to protect quality of life of students and Blacksburg…

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