Luxury apartments continue trend on campus

By Liz Jassin

Apartments like 309 Green and Tower at Third have provided University students with luxury amenities and included utilities for years. This fall, students will be able to move into West Quad and HERE Champaign, which take luxury amenities even further with robotic valet parking, yoga studios, a golf simulator and more.

While West Quad and HERE have already begun leasing for the fall, both buildings are still undergoing construction.

Jessica Langer, junior in AHS, signed her lease at West Quad and said she is excited about the study rooms, fitness center and outdoor amenities provided. 

Jason Okrasinski, CEO of Cribspot, a website used by University students to compare housing options, said more students are preferring all utilities to be included in their rent. Okrasinski said parking, laundry, and study rooms are certain amenities that students claim to be “really important.”

Meanwhile, luxury amenities like terraces, tanning or fitness centers are often not used as much as students initially think they will, Okrasinski said.

Many students aren’t willing to cough up the money for the extra features.

Shemari Spencer, sophomore in LAS, looked at West Quad but turned away when she realized there was only a virtual tour of the place. She did not want to risk putting so much money into something she couldn’t see in person, and said she would rather have her money go toward something else than free tanning.

“The amenities are very exciting, but so are all of the study amenities; the social amenities outside are there for you to enjoy after you have accomplished a good day at school,” said Cassie Leigh, area general manager for CA Student Living, which manages West Quad and HERE Champaign.

Michelle Carr, campus manager for Campustown Rentals, spoke on behalf of the apartment complexes owned by American Campus Communities on campus. Specifically, Carr mentioned 309 Green and Tower at Third, which she said offer similar living experiences.

“Parents and families are going to pay more for more,” Carr said.

They pay more for communities that focus both on academics and creating a “family feel,” Carr added. She said at 309 they know most residents by name, which creates a community within the building.

“When it comes to the community feel, we are not the dorms, but being in a 24-floor building, they have the access to meeting new people every single day,” Carr said.

Location and price play a large role in where students decide to live, Okrasinski said, because “people want to be close to campus and at most, a 10-minute walk from their classes.”

Carr said parents are willing to pay more for 309 Green’s location and close walking distance to the Quad. Though it is a farther walk from campus facilities like the Activities and Recreation Center, Carr said the building has its own fitness center, which provides a safer option than walking to the ARC.

Nicole Schimmel, sophomore in ACES, said the location of 309 Green was the biggest reason she chose to live there. She said the building is close to her classes, restaurants, the Illini Union and bus stops. 

She also said she liked the location because it is on a more public street, which she described as a “safety feature.”

The amenities included at 309 were not things Schimmel said she needed in an apartment. Though she called them beautiful, she often goes to the library or campus recreation centers rather than using 309’s fitness center or study lounge.

However, Schimmel said others often take advantage of 309’s amenities, especially the pool and hot tub. 

“The newer student housing communities are becoming popular with people who can afford the rates because at the end of the day, they are paying one bill,” Carr said. “They have the community and the academic feel.”

[email protected]

@lizjassin