The recently opened University Gateway apartment complex does not live up to its promises of luxury living, according to many students now living in the building.
Among the complaints from residents of Gateway, located at the corner of Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard, are problems with unfinished ceilings, unsanded furniture, a lack of storage space and overhead lighting, difficulty reaching management and parking woes.
“I think most people can agree that Gateway promises things but does not deliver,” said Dina Nooh, a junior majoring in business administration.
In general, Nooh said, the apartments in Gateway are not built to match the quality of an apartment that costs more than $1,000 per month — the price of rent for leases signed last spring.
“The ceilings just seem unfinished; they’re uneven and have little holes [and] cracks. One of my friends said she has nails coming out of hers,” Nooh said. “There does not seem to be enough cabinets for all our stuff and the under-the-bed drawers are smaller than they look, and the desk does not come with any drawers.”
Urban Partners, LLC, the company managing Gateway, said the ceiling appearance is done on purpose to create an “urban” feel.
“With regard to the apartment ceiling concerns, they are a unique artchtectural [sic] element of the building and have been designed to create an ‘urban loft’ feel for the units,” wrote John Hrovat, partner of Urban Partners and a USC alumnus, in an e-mail.
One of the promises made to residents was the guarantee of free parking; Gateway residents receive free parking at the USC Parking Center, but parking at the actual Gateway complex costs extra money.
This, according Makhala Greene-Robinson, a sophomore majoring in business administration, was not communicated to students when they signed the lease.
“We didn’t really know where [the free parking] was,” Greene-Robinson said. “It was at the Parking Center, which was way too far.”
According to Hrovat, more than 700 parking spaces are offered at the Gateway complex and 400 spaces are located at the Parking Center, located on 35th Street and Grand Avenue.
“To ensure our residents’ convenience, our off-site parking is operated by USC and includes a shuttle service to campus and to University Gateway,” Hrovat wrote.
Another problem that students have run into, Greene-Robinson said, is dealing with management to get issues fixed in a timely manner.
“Management is just a little hard to deal with at times.” Greene-Robinson said. “They don’t care about your issues.”
Urban Partners, however, said the number of inquiries that management is receiving is normal given the high amount of students moving in at the same time.
“We continue to make adjustments to service our residents in the best possible way and look forward to continued interaction with each of our residents,” Hrovat wrote.
Gateway is now offering leases at $899, hundreds of dollars lower than the price given to students last year.
“It was annoying that the price dropped,” said Evan, a resident who did not disclose his last name. “You’re paying a premium price.”
Hrovat said that any changes in prices are reflected by a change in amenities offered in those apartments.
“Many of the leases signed last spring were for prime units on top floors,” Hrovat wrote. “The majority of University Gateway’s most luxurious apartments were leased at higher rates [last spring].”
In general, Evan said he believes Gateway could start to improve the situation by communicating more with students.
“I would want a quicker reaction time, or actually just responding,” Evan said of complaints from tenants. “I think the management is a novice group of people, so they’re trying to figure out how it’s going to work.”
In response to the influx of inquiries, Gateway management is working to create a more efficient system for giving feedback to students.
“We are also eliminating desktop computers in favor of tablet laptops so that the property’s staff can better respond to concierge desk requests and can interact directly with the resident,” Hrovat said.