West Quad and HERE Champaign townhomes to take root in campustown

By Bridget Hynes

Starting in Fall 2015, two new apartment complexes will open for student living on campus: West Quad and HERE Champaign.

West Quad is currently under construction at 30 E. John St. in Champaign, while HERE Champaign is being built at 308 E. Green St. in Champaign.

CA Student Living, formerly Campus Acquisitions, is a student-living housing division of CA Ventures. The housing development company will operate the buildings, and the two are the company’s first housing options on campus. The company is also located on other campuses such as the University of Oregon, Purdue University, Illinois State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee.

Cassie Leigh, area general manager for CA Student Living, and Meredith Dickensen, national leasing specialist, emphasized that the difference between CA Student Living and other apartment companies on campus is that they focus primarily on the students and their experience.

Leigh said that after talking to students on campus living in other places, she received a lot of feedback from students saying that either they don’t have roommates or that they don’t know their neighbors.

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    “It’s kind of sad,” she said. “Look at all the people down here. You have the opportunity to know 40,000 people. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing as far as I’m concerned.”

    To combat the problem, Leigh said the new apartment complexes will offer on-site, free amenities to increase the communal feel between residents. Both locations will offer free tanning, 24-hour fitness centers with CrossFit equipment and study rooms, she said. These study rooms can be used for private studying, meetings or organized resident activities. The HERE Champaign complex will also feature a golf simulator and movie theater, and West Quad will be complete with a courtyard outfitted with an outdoor pool and a Jumbotron built in the outdoor courtyard.

    CA Student Living also offers roommate matching and online leasing if potential residents prefer.

    In addition, all utilities and a professional moving crew will be available to move students into the building free of cost, a service that is included in the rental fees.

    Leigh also said that students will see her on-site daily.

    “I don’t have any children, and one thing I tell these kids is I don’t have one child, I have 1,000 children,” she said. “To me, that’s the most important part of it.”

    Dickensen said another theme CA Student Living focuses on is being innovative with the buildings and amenities.

    For example, HERE Champaign is LEED certified and it will also have a robotic parking garage for residents.

    “No one will be in the actual parking garage,” she said. The system works so that cars are brought along a track to their parking spot. There will be an app for residents to tell the system where to park their car, Dickensen said.

    While the amenities and parking options are a focal point of the CA Student Living staff, the floor plans of the units are also appealing, said Leigh.

    “We have really unique designs, and we try to do a bunch of different floor plans so there’s an option for everybody,” Leigh said.

    At West Quad, there will be two rows of town homes adjacent to a five-story apartment building, forming a three-walled exterior to the courtyard. At HERE Champaign, the town homes will be built into the 27-story high rise. However, as Leigh explained, the high rise is a 15-story building, with a two-floored town home on each story.

    Scott Stover, senior in ACES, signed to live at West Quad in January when two of his friends said they were in need of two more roommates. Stover, who will be a graduate student in the fall at the University, will live in one of the town homes built into West Quad. He said he is excited to experience a more communal apartment experience.

    “We’ll all have that quad area and those amenities to share with each other. Basically it will be a lot more social,” he said.

    John Druffel, executive vice president of CA Student Living and a University alumnus of 1984, said he has three kids at the University and has seen the student rental market mature over the past decade.

    “I lived in a small apartment in Urbana and I lived in a really trashy house in Champaign,” he said. “These days, student living is trending much more toward the type of experience you would expect if you were in downtown Chicago in a rental property, where safety, security, cleanliness and service are expected.”

    Bridget can be reached at [email protected].