Luxury buildings change housing at University of Illinois

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 22, 2015 at 8:40 a.m.

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The luxury housing boom that's occurred over the past 14 years at the University of Illinois has changed the way students live on campus, though the allure is starting to wear off due to the price of rent, according to school officials.

Gone are the days of sharing bedrooms and bathrooms or living in dorms without air conditioning and elevators. Now, several complexes offer parking, a pool, a sand volleyball court and large balconies, the (Champaign) News-Gazette ( ) reported.

"Students are wanting amenities more like what you would find in downtown Chicago," said John Druffel, executive vice president for student living at CA Ventures, the owner of the HERE and West Quad buildings. "Student housing is underserved as a quality housing market. It is where the industry is investing money."

The first modern luxury building, Green Street Towers, was completed in 2001. Since then, five other buildings offering students luxury housing started an amenities arms race — bedroom-bathroom parity, granite countertops, flat-screen TVs, in-unit laundry, rooftop grills, hot tubs and pools. The race may have been capped this year with a parking robot at the new HERE high-rise and a virtual golf course and an outdoor Jumbotron at the West Quad complex.

The University of Illinois campus is amenity-heavy compared with other colleges, but all luxury housing markets have a few constants — fitness centers, study rooms and game rooms, according to Druffel.

"We want students to be able to do everything there," he said. "We want a place where students can find a balance of blowing off steam and studying."

But the increase in state-of the-art housing only applies to University of Illinois students who can afford to pay between $700 and $1,200 each month. Many students spend a year in the luxe apartments before realizing the cost is too high, said Tanisha King-Taylor, director of the school's tenant union.

"They want it but can't afford it," she said.

Some of the new luxury buildings also have seen less interest after the "wow" factor wore off, King-Taylor said.

"After the first year or two, even though it's luxury and it looks nice, it might not be all it's cracked up to be," she said.

American Campus, a company that owns two of the buildings, surveys residents each year to determine what influences decision-making and ways they can update the building to keep students interested, general manager Kyle Mangano said.


Information from: The News-Gazette,

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