UI wants to house students in another apartment complex


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University of Iowa officials hope to lease another privately owned apartment complex — this one near Burge Residence Hall — to house students next fall in an ongoing effort to ease overcrowding in the dormitories.

The state Board of Regents will vote on the proposal at its meeting Dec. 9. The UI is requesting to rent the entire Centerstone apartment complex — owned by College View LLC — located at 121/131 E. Davenport St.

If approved, this will mark the second time the UI has leased an off-campus building to accommodate an influx of students hoping to live in residence halls. This year, roughly 160 incoming students live in the Lodge — located nearly two miles off campus.

University Housing Director Von Stange said officials decided to lease the Lodge this year because of the large freshman class, and Centerstone will serve the same purpose next year.

"We just anticipated that with this year's large freshman class, we anticipate another large class next year," Stange said. "And with the percentage of students who return to the residence halls each year, we felt we needed more space to house our students."

The Centerstone building lies just one block from campus and consists of 22 five-bedroom units, one four-bedroom unit, and two one-bedroom units. It could house up to 116 people.

According to the proposal released Thursday, the lease term would last two years, from August 2011 to July 2013, with an option for a third year at the base rate of $760,560 for the first year. The project would be funded from the University Housing and Dining Operating budget.

The temporary solutions are leading up to the construction of a new residence hall on the West Campus, estimated to be completed in 2014 and cost from $20 million to $32 million.

Stange said negotiations with College View are complete, and he expects the regents to approve the plan.

"I think they appreciate the fact that we are being proactive, and trying to find a permanent space for as many students as we can," he said. "Overall, I think everyone agrees with the fact that the fewer students we have in expanded housing the better off we are, and I think they are supportive of that."

Regent Robert Downer also said he expects the regents to OK the proposal.

Downer said he does not anticipate the project to pose any funding issues.

"I assume that this is a way to try to meet demand for additional housing before new residence halls get built, so I would guess that it's not going to have a huge revenue effect one way or the other," he said.

The UI is considering leasing additional properties near campus to house students, Stange said.

Officials do not yet know whether Centerstone will replace or supplement the Lodge next year.

The UI part of the Lodge houses transfer and international students. Stange indicated the Centerstone complex will also not be used to house incoming freshmen. It will, like the Lodge, be managed by resident assistants.

It could also be used as an extension of Daum to house returning Honors students, Stange said.
Current residents in Centerstone were surprised to be notified Nov. 9 that they cannot renew their leases.

"It's kind of frustrating because we've lived in this apartment for two years now, and we have to go find another apartment and deal with all that," said UI junior Evan Kander.

Officials from the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University said they have not leased a building from a private company, primarily because they have not seen as strong a demand for housing.

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