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“Luxury” apartments shrinking our campus

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The new 212 East high rise apartments by First Column Living across the street from The Red Lion.

The new 212 East high rise apartments by First Column Living across the street from The Red Lion.

Jeremy Hu

Jeremy Hu

The new 212 East high rise apartments by First Column Living across the street from The Red Lion.

By Leah Pearlman, Columnist

Just last semester we celebrated a big anniversary for our University; it’s been 150 years of truly impacting the two cities which we span. Champaign-Urbana is a complete college town, so it would seem only natural that the City Council would be receptive to the needs and wants of over 40,000 students that live here.

With this in mind, realize how many “luxury” student housing complexes have opened in the last decade, mostly surrounding the infamous Green Street area.

This summer, two new “luxury” apartments were completed in time for Fall 2017 move-in, both within a block of each other. One stands right off of Green Street on John Street, Suites at Third, and the other on the corner of Green and Third Street, 212 East Green.

Just a block away, HERE apartments are located, among a handful of other “luxury” student housing complexes like West Quad, 309 and Skyline Towers lining Green Street. These “luxury” complexes lure students in with attractive amenities such as pools, hot tubs, gyms and even (in HERE apartment’s case) bowling alleys and a full-swing golf simulator. However, because of these features, each occupant is charged above-average rent.

Students can convince their parents it is the best place to live with their double security, study rooms and a very walkable distance to the quad. Walking such a short distance home from the bars to your apartment at night is another logistic perk.

But many are planned and operated by the same realtors, doing the most to make sure your money is in their pockets — even if that means using questionable construction practices to make sure their properties are built as quickly as possible before the next “hot property” comes along. I am not calling out HERE apartments, but then again, their elevators never work and last year the elevator inspection sheets hung up were months out-of-date.

However, a lot of students (me included) do choose to lease at these places regardless, and dole out the higher rent for in-unit washers and dryers, balconies and granite countertops. In fact, the “luxury” apartment buildings are housing so many students that it is leaving many houses in “senior land” (Oak street and Chalmers street ) and Urbana (Green Street through Pennsylvania Avenue) vacant.

The vacant houses in these areas go down in rent and then many local Champaign and Urbana residents begin to move into the homes. This is not only dwindling the size of the campus town students occupy, but also making those areas less desirable to live in if you have no other affordable options.

Champaign and Urbana residents own homes in and around these areas, and renting from them is supporting the community we are staying in while at school. And, while living in a high rise in the middle of the cornfields sounds appealing (kind of), for the most part it is not necessary for us all be stacked on top of each other.

We have a lot of space for students to live all around our beautiful campus and I, for one, truly regret not looking into other options before opting into a contract with a realtor company that owns half of the University area properties.

And to be fair, these new developments are enticing to students — I liked the idea of a hot tub six floors below me. They provide comfort and security to parents as well. Nothing is wrong with “luxury” student housing in itself, but the problem arises when there is simply too much “luxury” and not enough people choosing to live around campus in other areas, literally shrinking our campus in the process.

The city benefits from higher rents, but seems to miss, or ignore, the disservice that is being done to students and residents of both cities by encouraging hot, luxury apartments to take over.

Champaign-Urbana is a college town, not a playground for developers. I want to urge students to span across our campus and occupy the spaces we are ignoring as of late. The University provides us with a gym (one that gleams in comparison to any apartment gym), a pool (same with the pool, trust me) and other fun amenities that won’t cost you an extra $200-$300 per month.

Of course, I enjoy the amazing view, staring right at another apartment building through my window (ha). But I know I will do my best to convince my friends to live with me in a cute Champaign house next year because, if anything, I am never waiting 13 minutes (I timed it once) for an elevator at 8:00 a.m. on this campus ever again.

Leah is a junior in Media.

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1 Comment

  • Kiwi

    It is just me or do the new 212 East high apartments look really ugly