Lofts life joins campus housing options
120 beds at recently finished complex will be leased with universityBy Samuel Yang | 07/03/2014 2:54pm
The new bridge connecting two buildings at The Lofts. /CW | Hanna Curlette
Ultimately, the buildings were completed, move-in day came and went and students moved into their brand-new apartments. Some of those spaces were leased by the University and occupied by students through campus housing. Immediately afterwards, construction began on Phase II, which will add two buildings, and is scheduled to be completed August 15. The master lease that put students in The Lofts will also be in effect.
“We actually have two buildings in Phase II, and one of those buildings is actually finished,” Hollis said. “The second building of Phase II will be ready for August 15 ?move-in. And then we’ll be completed with construction for the residential. There’s no more phases ?of residential.”
The plan is for The Lofts to house businesses as an amenity to the 1,225 students who will live there.
On campus, new retail dining is appearing next to new bed spaces as well. Steven Hood, executive director of Housing and Residential Communities, said campus housing can now accommodate 8,400 students, thanks to the addition of 871 beds in Presidential Village II.
Of those 8,400 spaces are 120 spaces at The Lofts, thanks to a master lease like those previously held by complexes like East Edge Student Apartments and The Bluffs at WaterWorks Landing.
“Past agreements for other master leases were established for a designated period of time,” Hood said. “Once those agreements expired, we determined that we did need a new master lease so a competitive [Request for Proposal] was created and sent to local off-campus student housing complexes to consider making a proposal.”
The spaces at The Lofts were originally offered to groups or organizations planning on living together, he said. Remaining spaces were made available to upperclassmen.
“In reviewing the RFP’s, we looked at location, cost and quality of project/program to determine which property and property manager was the best fit for UA’s housing needs,” he said.
Hollis said The Lofts, which also held a master lease with the University last year, had the distinct advantage of being a brand new complex. They were able to put all university-leased spaces together in one building that had brand new furniture, amenities and transportation services provided by a campus shuttle.
“The relationship with them this past year was wonderful,” she said. “We didn’t have any problems at all, and the students were great.”
Alexandria Gilbert, who lived at East Edge Apartments under a UA contract, opted to move with the University to The Lofts last year rather than into a dorm. She said the first semester was filled with fire alarms, but management was able to effectively and efficiently deal with problems.
“I think the Lofts were an improvement over earlier off-campus contracts,” she said. “The units and amenities are great, and it’s still close enough to be convenient.”
The same construction that concerned students a year ago caught the eye of Robert Hannah, a junior majoring in economics, who currently lives in the newly constructed Building 3. He said The Lofts’ closeness to the campus and the city is convenient.
“I’d seen the construction on the new phase of The Lofts every time I drove down McFarland, so that’s what initially caught my eye,” he said. “When I started looking for off-campus housing, The Lofts was one of the places on my list of possibilities.”
Hollis said The Lofts is one of the more upscale complexes in the market with pricing comparable to their competition. Currently, a four-bedroom apartment goes for a base rate of $590 per month, with optional utility and furniture packages. They also have individual leasing, so students are only responsible for their portion of the unit – one of the considerations The Lofts took into account when building for students.
“We’ve got a 24-hour fitness center and a fitness room where they can go in and do yoga or P90x or Insanity. We have P90x and Insanity actually on a television,” she said. “We have a computer lab. We’ve got three individual study rooms. We’ve got free Wi-Fi, and then we’ve actually got three pools now.”
The University’s master lease secured 120 spaces at the same rate students would pay under one lease. Though move-in day last year found more incoming female freshmen students than there were available rooms, Hood said the University anticipates being able to meet the needs of first-year freshmen with on-campus housing and without any other accommodations.
The new contract with The Lofts, he said, was driven by a demand for campus housing. Hollis said the lease that resulted from that strengthened the relationship between The Lofts and the University.
“We’ve had a great relationship with them,” she said. “As long as they need [the spaces], we would love to have them here.”