UI houses, apartments, and duplexes popular

BY SAM LANE | FEBRUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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The University of Iowa serves as landlord for more than the freshman in Slater and Stanley. Much more.

And in a rough economic climate, officials say their apartments and houses can offer an affordable alternative to private leasing companies. Parking included.

The UI owns a variety of residential properties. It has a total of 21 fully furnished units: one house, 10 duplexes, nine one-bedroom apartments, and one studio apartment. It also owns 41 unfurnished residences.

In addition to these properties, the UI also owns two apartment complexes, one on Hawkeye Drive and another on Hawkeye Court. Because of an expected increase in the number of incoming freshmen next year, university officials have decided to convert Parklawn — now a third apartment complex — back into a dorm for next year.

The two apartment complexes boast 613 units, all of which are occupied save for small number affected by the 2008 flood.

Officials said people may prefer the apartments to the dorms because of their affordability, the included amenities, free parking, and proximity to Cambus lines. Also, if an apartment tenant has children, the UI pays for any costs associated with their public-school education. They also pay to make sure school buses stop at these locations.

“Everyone here has something in common.” said Helen Baker, the manager of the apartments. “They’re all affiliated with the university in some way.”

The average per-month rent for students in the two-bedroom apartments is $540. At the same time, the average per-month rent for a two-bedroom apartment rented through Apartments Downtown, a leading rental agency in Iowa City, can be over $600.

Officials didn’t have the total dollar amount of UI-owned properties. One of the UI’s properties — 707 Melrose Ave. — is worth more than $220,000. However, many of the university-owned complexes are farther from campus.

Money from school-owned properties goes back into the housing budget, Baker said.

The University of Texas-Austin has a similar set of popular apartments. In three complexes, it has 715 apartments, which are 95 percent occupied at any given time. Randall Porter, the senior associate director for housing and food service at Austin, said the school has 350 people on the waiting list.

“I think it’s very important,” Porter said. “It’s potentially a recruiting tool for academic departments, particularly for international students.”

Baker said the apartments simply give students another option.

“People put a lot of trust in the University of Iowa being a good landlord,” she said.

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