With hopes of alleviating an increasingly large housing shortage in the USC area, developers of the University Gateway Apartments will begin leasing the building’s apartments — opening for the 2010-2011 school year — as soon as Sept. 4 of this year.
Though leasing is beginning nearly a whole year in advance of the building’s scheduled completion date, developers said they are confident the building will be ready in time for students to move in.
“We don’t anticipate any delays, and at this point. Urban [Partners] along with our builder, Clark Construction, are ahead of schedule in terms of delivering the building,” said Matt Burton, principal at Urban Partners LLC, the firm that owns University Gateway Apartments.
The building — located at the northwest corner of Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard — will offer one-year leases on 421 apartments. Of the available units, 407 will be two-bedroom apartments and 14 will be one-bedroom apartments, totaling 1,650 beds.
“The more housing in this area the better,” said Christina Carey, a senior majoring in international relations. “This school is becoming increasingly more and more of a ‘go away to school’ school instead of a commuter school, and the university should be able to provide housing for all students.”
Though Urban Partners does not anticipate a huge rush immediately, leasing is opening this fall in order to generate interest in the building and to give students an opportunity to see what it has to offer, said John L. Hrovat, also a principal at Urban Partners.
“I really don’t expect a whole bunch of leasing in the first month,” Hrovat said. “I’ve got a product that nobody knows. There’s a whole process of establishing what your brand is and making sure that people understand here’s what it is, here’s what the building offers, here’s the amenities.”
Though Hrovat acknowledged that most students would not be apartment shopping seriously until next year, he added there has already been interest in the building, with approximately 100 people already on the pre-leasing list.
“Parents have called up to say, ‘I have a child with an allergy situation and I don’t want to put them in an old building.’ … There have been some people who’ve said, ‘I want to be in that building early,’” Hrovat said.
Pricing for the units has not yet been announced — those details will be revealed closer to the day leasing begins. Many students said cost will significantly impact whether they consider living in the Gateway apartments next year.
“Price is definitely the most important thing,” said Sergio Ruiz, a senior majoring in neuroscience. “Everything around ’SC is really, really expensive and being a first generational student it’s kind of hard to afford a lot of the housing that’s around here.”
Some students also expressed wariness over signing a lease while the building is still under construction.
“I think they could promise certain things to be in there and they would end up not putting them in, but you’d already be in a contract and there’d be nothing you could do about it,” said Megan Spurrell, a freshman majoring in communication and music industry. “You’d be forced to get what you get.”
Delays were also a concern for students.
“They’re promising, but you can never guarantee with construction,” said Nicole Berkanslar, a sophomore majoring in international relations global business. “Something could go wrong and then it takes another year,” But Burton said there is no reason the building shouldn’t finish on time.
The building is expected to be complete on June 30, at which point the apartments will be ready. The retail space, however, will not be finished.
Hrovat and Burton both said they expect the building to be fully leased by the time it opens.
“The student population that is our target market moves just about every year, and the project that we’re building — being sort of the newest, nicest game in town — I know will get a very, very high level of interest,” Hrovat said.