By Natalie Kouba
As the retail spaces continue to fill and students await the much anticipated opening of Campus Town, both developers and the College have made recent changes to the project’s blueprints, accommodating for the students who signed up in hopes to be the first to live in the apartments in the heart of Campus Town.
All 446 available spots have been taken, leaving just over 100 students on the waiting list. But the new construction will open up 74,000 sq. ft. of residential space for an additional 166 students to live in Campus Town in summer 2016, just one year after the rest of the project will open in August of this year. According to the website, the cost of the extended development, funded by the PRC Group, is estimated at $30 million, bumping up the total cost of the Campus Town project to $120 million.
With slightly steeper rates for Campus Town living that housing through the College, the cost of a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Campus Town is $6,544 per semester, $6,003 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom and $5,462 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom. Omitting the cost of a required meal plan, the cost for a room for a semester on campus in any of the residential houses at the College — from the Towers to the Apartments — is $4,205.46. Despite the higher cost of living in the brand-new apartments, living in the center of Campus Town with the convenience of being physically on campus can override the costly price tag.
“Not only will we be living right above or near Panera, Starbucks, a gym and other retail stores, but we will also be closer to Bliss and the Business building than the Townhouses or Apartments, which is where most of our classes are located,” said sophomore marketing major Brittany Mashel, who will be living with three other students in Campus Town.
“Additionally, we are allowed to remain on campus during the fall, Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks, and so (we) do not have to clear off campus with the rest of the dorms.”
Rising senior elementary education and iStem double major Emma Saporito will be living with her friends in a four-bedroom apartment.
“I’m from Massachusetts, so it is cheaper than living on campus and I like it because it is new,” she said.
The new housing will take up a section of what was previously reserved for student parking along the north side of the project along Metzger Drive — although, fewer students have signed up for reserved parking than expected, according to Greg Lentine, Campus Town’s director of campus development. But to keep the same amount of parking available as in the original housing plans, the developers have always planned to expand parking north. Plans to set up a “car share” program are also in the works, said Lentine, but details have not yet been released.
“We are not getting as many students getting cars as they have in the past,” Lentine said. “We are working right now on getting the car share program to support the environment as well as the parking.”
According to Niki deQuintal, one of Saporito’s roommates, she paid for a parking spot in Campus Town in two installments of $150 for the year, whereas a full year residential parking decal purchased through the College is $280.
“I enjoy living on campus and being able to access my friends and activities with a 10 minute walk at most,” said sophomore English and secondary education double major Jenna Burke, who will be living in a four-bedroom apartment in Campus Town. “I also do not have a car, so living off campus is currently not an option.”
The original housing construction will be completed with students ready to unpack their bags at the beginning of the fall semester, although it is not yet certain if all of the retail space will be leased out. Once a retail space is leased out, it is up to the owners to decide when they will be ready to open up shop.
To date, retail spaces that have signed are Yummy Sushi, Red Berry Frozen Yogurt, Mexican Mariachi Grill, Starbucks, Spenser Savings Bank, a nail salon Panera Bread and Piccolo Trattoria Italian restaurant. Leases are currently being negotiated with a wireless phone company, sports bar and tanning salon, according to Lentine.
“Cost was a big disadvantage because it could have been cheaper to appeal to many parents who are paying. It is basically still on campus and having to follow campus rules,” deQuintal said. “It is kind of scary to sign a lease without the finished product being done and able to view.”