High rent no guarantee of good service

By Meghan O'Kelly

As cranes, road closures and advertisements for new residential property crowd Green Street, the promise of “luxury housing” is luring some students to above average accommodations, including top quality interiors and pre-installed electronics.

Ester Patt, coordinator of the Tenant Union, warns against paying high rent with the expectation of outstanding service.

“People paying high rent often are more angry about poor service because they pay so much,” she said. “People spend too much because they assume more expensive means better service, but more expensive just means more expensive.”

Greg Goebel, office manager of Roland Reality, 901 S. First St., considers some of the 65 houses he rents to students to be luxury housing.

With amenities including big-screen televisions, refrigerators equipped for kegs, stereos and large rooms, he said rent ranges from $400 to $650 per person.

“I think it’s a good deal,” he said. “We have a really great service record, and I think we take care of our tenants.”

Goebel said there are plans to build additional luxury houses to meet the increasing demand on campus.

“I definitely think this campus is moving toward the standards of living going up,” he said.

Bruce Behnen, who plans to start classes at the University this year, lived at College Park Apartments in Savoy last year and now lives in Gabe’s Place apartments at First Street and Gregory Drive in Champaign.

Not including utilities, his four-bedroom apartment costs $1,225 per month. Behnen said that is the same amount he paid at his previous apartment when he had access to an outdoor pool, workout facilities, tanning beds and utilities.

“If I had my choice between living here and living there, I would probably live there,” Behnen said.

Steve Hertel manages several campus apartment buildings as the office manager at Roland Reality, 212 E. Green St., which operates independently from the First Street location.

“There’s definitely a market for higher end, but I can’t speak to that because we don’t have anything like that,” he said.

Hertel said the typical monthly rent for their apartments ranges from $350 to $400 per person.

“We obviously have our prices lower because we don’t have the amenities since the buildings aren’t as new,” Hertel said.

With typical amenities including a dishwasher, air conditioning, a balcony and common laundry, Hertel said student interest in additional comforts has not hurt his business.

“You just try to maintain what you have and keep them painted,” he said.

“I’m here to just sleep, eat and go to class, and it works for me,” Behnen said. “I don’t really need the extra luxury things.”