Is luxury off-campus student housing worth the price?

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By: Jordan Erb and Ximena Bustillo

Within the past three years, four off-campus student apartment complexes have gained popularity among students. Each is less than half a mile from the Boise State campus, stands four or five stories tall and offers luxury amenities, such as fitness centers, jacuzzis, Starbucks coffee dispensers and game rooms.

The apartment complexes were brought to Boise by different out-of-state housing development corporations: La Pointe was developed by Fresno, Calif.’s Topanga Investments; Vista East and West by Atlanta’s Carter; and River Edge by Marlton, N.J’s The Michaels Organization. They offer high-end student living–for a price. A comparison between average rent in Boise and rent at these complexes revealed that residents at any of these four apartments may be paying up to $1,277 more than for the average apartment their size in Boise.

The Arbiter reached out to current and previous residents and staff from each apartment complex to answer one question: is it all worth it?

Vista East and Vista West:

Vista East and West, owned by the same out-of-state corporation, offer all-inclusive housing with individualized leases for both students and non-students.

For Brianna Wadsworth, senior economics major and current resident, the positive aspects of Vista West outweigh the negatives. Living with friends, proximity to campus and access to facility amenities make it a top-notch housing option, according to Wadsworth.

“The apartment comes fully furnished and for someone who lives like a divorced, 30-year-old dad, I find The Vistas to be a saving grace, considering all I need is bathroom towels, bedding and food,” Wadsworth said.

According to Wadsworth, most problems at The Vistas come from negligent renters. She also acknowledged that the maintenance and front desk staff strive to keep up with the messes of wild residents.

“The younger residents are obnoxious, and leave their trash everywhere. Holes are punched in the wall, pizza boxes are shoved into gates to break it for roughly one month and I wake up to throw up in the halls and elevators,” Wadsworth said. “If you ask me, this is a resident problem rather than a community problem.”

Cynthia Lay, leasing and marketing team leader, agreed.

“Not everyone respects where they live. There can be vomit in the elevators–its typical student housing,” Lay said.

La Pointe: 

According to Emily DeYoung, the property manager of La Pointe, the apartments offer individual leases for luxury student housing. With 336 students, La Pointe is 98 percent student occupied.

Junior graphic design major Camille Poynter and senior communication major Meghan Holley were both former residents of La Pointe. Both students lived in the apartments from summer 2016 to summer 2017.

Both Poynter and Holley agreed La Pointe is a clean complex with a friendly staff and timely maintenance crew.

“They had special rates if you signed within a limited time at $490 a month per person with a four-bedroom, four-bath lease,” Poynter said. Holley agreed, explaining this is the same reason she moved in.

“They raised their rates over $100 per person per month for the next year, and it would be over $600 per person for a four- bed four-bath,” Holley said.

The increase in price is the main factor that deterred the two students.

“I think I was getting my money’s worth. Internet, cable, gym, pool and other amenities were included in a really nice apartment layout,” Poynter said. “$600 per person is reasonable for them, though not reasonable for college students.”

The luxury apartments have had to steadily increase their prices to mold to market demands, according to DeYoung. This, unfortunately, places students in a bind.

“It basically forced us to move out, which sucked because I really liked living there,” Poynter said.

For next year, there will be a raise in prices, as a $30 utility fee will be added due to market demands, according to DeYoung.

River Edge:

Reflective of its name, River Edge sits neatly against the Boise River and the Greenbelt. Housing more than 600 students, the facility offers a student-living experience unlike other off-campus housing, according to general manager Erin Johnson.

“We’re about 85 to 90 percent students, mostly because of the way we structure our lease terms and the utilities included, so students would be more prone to renting here than not,” Johnson said.

The lease structure, according to junior marketing major Madison Belzer, is a convenient aspect of the complex and one that her parents appreciated, as well.

“My parents love that it is individual leases,” Belzer said. “If someone moves out, your rent doesn’t go up, whereas in most houses it would. The concept of these apartments is genius.”

Like the other three, River Edge offers all-inclusive living and fun extras, such as “Free Food Fridays” and access to HBO.

As with the positive similarities between complexes, there are negative similarities, too.

“After the weekends it gets a little messier, just because there are some residents that don’t respect the property as much as the rest of us would like. But hey, you can’t expect everyone to be as respectful or clean as the next person, that’s just not how it goes,” Belzer said. “I have heard the same things about La Pointe and The Vistas as well. But maintenance works really hard to make the property nice and clean. They deserve a lot more credit than they get.”

To corroborate this, Emily Dawson, a senior psychology major and previous resident–whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity–said River Edge had its occasional messes.

“Overall, it was pretty clean,” Dawson said. “However, they didn’t clean the stairs too often and there would be dog poop and spilled beer for a few days before it was cleaned.”

Josh Paulsen, junior applied mathematics major and previous resident, said maintenance is good and timely, but damage by tenants is apparent. According to Paulsen, there were times when emergency exit signs were knocked down by students, leaving holes in the walls.

In general, students seemed content to compromise price for a luxury living experience. The amenities and lavish extras still draw in renters, despite frequent cost upticks, facility damages and vomit and feces in hallways. The opportunity cost associated with these complexes is an imperative risk, according to Boise State students.

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