By Ian Carlino
Tracy Kendrot won’t be staying in traditional off-campus housing next year. She’s tired of living without easy access to a washing machine and dishwasher. She doesn’t want to supply her own furniture in a building that’s falling down.
So next fall, Kendrot, a junior hospitality management major, will be among the first SU students to lease an apartment in Park Point, a new luxury complex at the edge of campus and the latest in a growing trend among SU student housing.
“They include some things that are hard to find off campus such as dishwashers and each apartment having its own washer/dryer,” said Kendrot. “Their location and quality made it a good choice.”
Park Point Syracuse is being built on Comstock Avenue, between East Adams and Marshall streets and will welcome its first students in August.
The University is leasing the land to Wilmorite, a commercial real estate development and management company based in Rochester, NY. Wilmorite will build and maintain the $16 million facility.
Park Point represents a new direction for SU student housing. The university is trying to expand its housing options without spending more money.
“It’s a way to increase and improve housing options for students without the university having to invest its own capital,” said Eric Beattie, director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction. “For us to develop more student housing than that, we were looking for more alternative ways to do it where it wouldn’t tie up so much of the university’s resources.”
The university has been planning to have on-campus apartments since it began a search for proposals in 2005, according to a statement by Wilmorite in 2009. The statement said Park Point was being built “with upperclassmen and graduate students in mind,” and emphasized numerous times the new apartments’ extensive amenities, such as a fitness center, indoor lounge and private gated courtyard.
In the end, however, living in Park Point would not cost much less than what the university charges for housing and meals.
The university predicts the average cost for housing and meals next year will be $12,850. The cheapest option at Park Point, a four-bedroom unit with a 10-month lease, will cost $9,490 — and that doesn’t include food.
Wilmorite has also built luxury apartments for the Rochester Institute of Technology. The company considers them a success, and the Syracuse apartments will be similar to those in Rochester, Wilmorite said in a statement.
“Wilmorite plans to bring the success of Park Point at RIT to Syracuse,” the statement said. “The Syracuse University apartments will be named Park Point Syracuse, and although it may have some similarities to its Rochester counterpart, it will definitely have Syracuse University flair.”
Park Point should be filled by August, said Wendy Roche, marketing director for Park Point at RIT and Park Point Syracuse.
“There was a demand for high quality luxury student living with a more convenient location,” she said.
Park Point will be similar to the University Village Apartments, which are on South Campus. Any strong competition, however, has not yet flared up, says University Village community manager Matt Burkett.
“There is some competition, but at half the capacity of UVA, we do not see it being an issue,” he said. “We are ahead of last year’s sales by almost five months and anticipate being full in the next 30-45 days.”
The main differences between the two, according to Burkett, are in location, design and capacity. Park Point is on North Campus, while UVA is on South, and UVA is almost twice the size of Park Point. Burkett also touted UVA’s Community Assistant program by e-mail, saying that it “[aids] in the cohesion of the community through social and educational events.”
The apartments’ similarities are in their prices. A four-bedroom apartment with a 12-month lease in UVA costs $840 per person per month. The same combination in Park Point costs $855 per bedroom per month.
Keenyn Wald is the Assistant Resident Director for the university’s South Campus, which includes apartments and some residence halls. He believes that while there are benefits to living off campus, living in apartments on South offers the best of both worlds.
“They are still directly connected to the Office of Residence Life and their programming, but the students also get to learn about independence and the responsibility of apartment living,” Wald said. “I feel that our apartments are pretty competitive with the surrounding area apartments.”
Wald sees numerous possible reasons for students’ leaving university housing, including money, friends moving away, and a need for more freedom.
Louis Marcoccia, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Syracuse University, thinks the new apartments will also benefit the university’s student recruitment initiatives.
“This provides another attractive living opportunity on campus … that should be a positive,” he said.
Blair Dudik, a junior dual photojournalism and anthropology major, agrees that the luxury apartments are better options if a student wants convenience. They are not, Dudik said, for those trying to cut costs.
Dudil is living in UVA next year, but only because his friends asked him to share a four-person suite with them.
“I only learned about Park Point later and how similar it is to UV,” Dudik said. “If I was going to be a junior next year and my friends and I were thinking about living off campus, I would totally want to live in PP over UV.”
Still, Burkett is optimistic about Park Point’s effect on UVA and the campus.
“We were the first building around the campus in almost 30 years, and want to see improvement in the living conditions around campus,” he said. “We welcome the improvements that PP will bring to the community.”
For some, the higher price tags on Park Point apartments may trump the lure of the desirable amenities. Not for Kendrot; they were just what she was looking for, although she doesn’t think the new complex is a necessity. Still, she believes there will be demand for the new apartments among students.
“They’ll be something people want because they are new and much nicer,” Kendrot said.
Kendrot isn’t worried about the cost, either. She believes the other off-campus housing options would cost about the same as a luxury apartment in the end, and that she would be paying the same rent for poorer quality.
“The locations of off campus houses are usually too far, very run down and don’t include furniture or utilities,” Kendrot said. “To have to furnish an entire house and pay for everything would add up to cost either the same or more and you’d be sacrificing the quality of living for the same price.”