Even the University Housing director will admit it: everyone has to move off campus eventually.
“We don’t have room for everybody,” director Sue Gildersleeve said. “I certainly agree there is a point where it makes sense for students to live on their own.”
If UNL reaches Chancellor Harvey Perlman’s enrollment goal of 30,000 students, the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place – and housing is a large part of the equation.
As of fall 2013, about 33.5 percent of UNL’s 24,445 students lived on campus. The rest, except for those who commute or take all distance learning classes, must find a place to live in Lincoln.
“Right now I’d say there’s almost a saturation of off-campus units — talking to my competitors none of them are where they were last year,” said Dave Brown general manager of The View, a popular off-campus housing site for students. “Off-campus apartments that are out there would definitely be able to absorb those extra students.”
There are several options for off-campus housing, including recently built residential complexes 50/50, Parkhaus and Canopy Lofts, all of which are located within walking distance of City Campus or in downtown Lincoln. Combined, the complexes have about 1,500 units.
However, these new residential complexes, although less expensive than living in the majority of the university’s residential hall, aren’t affordable for everyone.
“They’re very different environments,” Gildersleeve said. “Residence halls all have plans that include food as well as rooms. You have RAs on the floor available to help if you have questions, roommate conflicts, as well as offering academic support.”
Gildersleeve said residential complexes such as 50/50 or Parkhaus wouldn’t intend to provide these kind of academic or social supports. A lot of places are also going to require a summer contract, unlike residence halls.
A four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment at Parkhaus, located on top of the Larson Building on Q and 13th streets, ranges from $615 to $699 per person.
Although there are several amenities offered with this including each tenant being on his or her own individual lease and 24-hour amenities such as a fitness center, study rooms, a rooftop garden with grills and seating and free Wi-Fi, the price is steep for some students.
Freshman veterinary medicine major and Neihardt resident Mallory Richert said she’s considering living in a residential complex of this type her junior year, but it will depend on which ever one’s cheapest.
Hallie Salem, a Lincoln urban planner, said these apartments such as Parkhaus, 50/50 and Canopy Lofts aren’t necessarily “expensive” and seem to be what the market is supporting at this point. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Lincoln is $655; for a two-bedroom, it’s $839. Both averages have been on the rise during the last five years, according to Metropolitan Statistical Area numbers.
Despite the higher rent, Parkhaus was pre-leased before it even opened, Salem said. The recent string of new buildings pre-lease or lease up quickly and banks are financing based on these lease rates, she said.
“They calculate what they think people will pay,” Salem said. “Then they use that to develop a budget for individual units and the furnishing. A lot of them have higher-end refrigerators and light fixtures.”
Salem said the city doesn’t dictate rates. She said in conversations she has had with them they’ve had no desire to offer below-market rates with these most recent units.
Other off-campus housing options farther from campus include The View and Claremont Park Apartments, both located north of Memorial Stadium near the North Bottoms neighborhood.
The View, like Parkhaus, offers individual liability leasing and a 24-hour fitness center, but rent per person ranges from $344 to $464.
The View also offers a number of amenities that Parkhaus does not such as a swimming pool, basketball court, sand volleyball and free tanning.
Another special amenity The View offers is a 24-hour business center
“All they have to do is supply paper,” Brown said. “I know printing can be expensive — you can go to Wal-Mart and buy paper for less than $8. I’ve seen people print off textbooks, and we don’t care. That’s what it’s there for — take advantage of it. Print off all your papers and your coursework for the entire year.”
However, The View is not within walking distance from campus. To get to campus, residents have to rely on a shuttle.
The shuttle is free and runs year round. It runs from 7 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. and although it doesn’t travel to East Campus, it drops off residents where several city buses pick up students and take them to East Campus, Brown said.
Claremont Park Apartments are another less expensive option for students — although they aren’t downtown, they’re located only four blocks from campus.
Community assistant at Claremont Park Apartments Martha Henso estimated it only takes about 10 minutes to walk to the stadium and about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the Nebraska Union.
Rent at Claremont ranges from $615 for a one-bedroom apartment to between $440 to $300 per person depending on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Unlike Parkhaus and The View, however, Claremont does not offer liability leasing.
“I think (rent is more expensive elsewhere) because we’re already built — a lot of these places are newer,” Henso said. “We understand that students have to pay their own rent.”