University housing promotes dorm life as CU apartment market grows


Halee Jane

Octave Apartments is located on Fourth Street. The new complex offers many amenities, like a pool and a covered parking garage, but University housing officials maintain that residence halls are among the best campus living options.

By Kimberly Belser, Staff Writer

A new off-campus luxury apartment in Champaign, Octave, has recently opened its doors to students seeking ‘upscale’ living while attending the University.

The apartment, constructed by Gilbane Development Company, and managed by Asset Living, has 167 total units, including one to four-bedroom apartments, with pricing options that range from $840-1,415 for fall 2020.

Octave, located at 210 S. Fourth St., has various features that Brayden Walls, assistant general manager at Octave, said he thinks makes the complex stand out as a luxury living space.

“We have a lot of different types of amenities that other communities offer, but ours is kind of to an extended level,” Walls said.

Some of the apartment’s amenities include covered garage parking, clubhouse space and kitchens with brand new appliances.

“When I was a student, this type of living was not offered,” Walls said.

Octave’s location is what draws students in, Walls said. The complex offers the “best of both worlds” in regards to a quiet, off-campus lifestyle, where students can still spend time on campus or ride their bikes to class.

Chelsea Hamilton, senior assistant director for communications and marketing for University Housing, said the University encourages students to continue living in residence halls because University Housing believes it has the best resources for students in the community.

“Whether it is having a community of built-in friends, we get them closer to campus, closer to the programs they want to be apart of, the different resources that are on campus, so location is a really big thing,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said University Housing is present to help young adults and individuals develop through their college careers.

“Living within the residence hall gives them truly that classic college experience, and our data does show us that students who live with us more than one year are more likely to graduate, and they’re more likely to graduate on time,” Hamilton said.

Shaan Patel, sophomore in LAS and Octave employee, said he chose to live at Octave because of the building’s newness and the sense of community he felt while working there.

“Really it was just that feel of community, that sense of community I liked the most, because the staff was really helpful, it was just kind of nice,” Patel said. “The amenities really caught my eye, though. It was a brand new building, so I knew I wouldn’t be living in a place with termites and everything around it.”

Walls said international and graduate students are the two main residential demographics at Octave, though there are undergraduate students and professionals that live there as well.

“Anyone who meets our qualifications can live here, they have to fill out an application, pass a background check, make sure they make it past criminal (screening) and whatnot,” Walls said.

T.J. Blakeman, senior planner for economic development for the City of Champaign, said apartments like Octave contribute to the Champaign-Urbana community in a number of ways.

“One of our goals is to continue to see students locating close to campus, hopefully within walkable distance of the campus, because it helps to reduce the dependency on automobiles,” Blakeman said.

He said the city has a great transit system and pedestrian environment, and keeping students close to campus ensures fewer cars are on the road, making it safer for pedestrians and easier for the roads.

Blakeman also said a strong population base in campus town can support businesses and services students need.

Apartments like Octave are large development projects that contribute considerably to the city’s property taxes, and also help the quality of life in Champaign through helping to build roads, maintaining sewers and building quality schools for residents, Blakeman said.

“The residents that are in those buildings, the students on the University of Illinois campus, those are residents in our community, those are citizens of our community. So we value those folks who are using our community. They’re shopping in our stores, they’re contributing to our local economy, and it’s important to remember that students are a critical piece to our local economy,” Blakeman said.

Gilbane Development and Asset Living were unable to respond for comment in time for publication.

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