Gateway in need of USC’s intervention

Around this time last semester, ponies were on campus. Small, fuzzy, nonplussed creatures being paraded down Trousdale Parkway in what became an adorable, non sequitur blitzkrieg of advertising by University Gateway apartments.

Marketers offered free bikes and gift certificates as incentives for early lessors, forgetting in the end students care more about affordable housing than gimmicks.

But moving day has passed. The ponies are gone, replaced instead by a herd of naysayers.

Many students now living in Gateway have voiced complaints that the housing monolith has not lived up to its overly enthusiastic promotion — that rooms appear unfinished, lighting and storage space are scant and promised amenities are absent. In fact, Urban Partners, LLC, the corporation that manages the complex, recently lowered the rent on some apartments to $899, almost $200 lower than the original pricetag, a move that disgruntled some students who thought they had gotten in on the ground floor.

USC simply doesn’t have enough beds, and letting companies like Urban Partners bring housing close to USC is a necessary step to keeping students on campus. But if USC doesn’t closely monitor its outsourced housing, it could find itself in another Conquest Student Housing situation. (In 2009, after numerous student complaints that Conquest — whose properties included Tuscany and Chez Ronnee — had provided subpar services to the student body for several years, USC bought the property with Westar Housing and transferred control to the company.)

If the university won’t provide the beds, it has a duty keep an eye on the operation.

Gateway promised to be an exciting part of USC’s Master Plan. The complex on Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard was touted as the next wave of “luxury” apartments sweeping North University Park — the costly alternative to a long trek home each night. The apartment is providing 1,650 beds to the many students shunted off campus by poor housing lottery numbers, though the original $1,064 price tag for a 12-month lease proved too cost-prohibitive for many.

Much of Gateway’s bluster involved its many advertised amenities. The complex’s buoyant website invites students to “live!, work, play, dine, dance, shop and sweat” — all without venturing outside its red-brick walls. Besides music practice centers, a bevy of restaurants, a Wii game room and what the site describes as an “over-the-top fitness center,” students turned to Gateway for space and proximity.

Instead, according to some residents, they got small, unfinished rooms without ample storage space or lighting, off-site parking and, for some, unresponsive management.

Gateway’s advertising campaign revealed a telling push for aesthetics over function. But students don’t care about ponies or pageantry. They want reasonable housing that lives up to its hefty price tag.

USC officials have said the ultimate goal is to provide guaranteed on-campus housing to students for all four years, but this objective is far from becoming a reality — instead, our alumni dollars will probably be paying for it. For now, the university has the responsibility to heavily police the many units sprouting up around campus, as vigilantly as if they had the Trojan logo on them.

Students shouldn’t have to sacrifice decent housing for proximity, and no amount of advertising can obscure subpar units. Although Gateway may simply be going through a few growing pains, USC should be right there to protect the interests of the student body.

Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and managing editor of the Daily Trojan.

5 replies
  1. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Anyone willing to ay over a grand to share a room, sight unseen, in a building not even built yet is asking for trouble. This is an expensive lesson for them but bad landlords with shady buildings are noy unique to the USC area but people lining up a year in advance to pay top dollar seem to be.

  2. Chris
    Chris says:

    I fail to see how USC is in any way responsible for this. It sucks, but all you can do is vote with your dollars and ditch the place when your lease is up. USC can stop allowing them to promote the building or walk ponies around campus, but calling for a takeover after a few months is just absurd.

  3. Jack
    Jack says:

    This article and recent others do offer a valuable degree of needed insight into the housing situation close to campus, but USC can’t exactly police everything that happens. Yes, they had an attractive advertising campaign, etc. etc. but there are an abundance of incompetent/overpriced housing “for students’ in the area that remain unregulated. Should USC start head hunting them, too?

  4. NON USC Attendent
    NON USC Attendent says:

    Hi, I dont go to USC, i just work in the area and that was the first thing i asked when deciding to live here. “Is it USC only?” and they said “No” this is NOT a USC dorm, it is not part of USC. it is a regular APARTMENT COMPLEX. I have been treated poorly by many USC students simply because i stated I did not go there. I feel as though i should just tell people I go there and they would be nice. Why does it even matter? Can some one explain why not going to USC suddenly lessons the quality of this building>

  5. angry gateway resident
    angry gateway resident says:

    THANK YOU!!! Also they are trying to room NON-USC students with USC students since this building is open to everyone now- despite people’s contracts saying you have to be a USC student. We were never informed of this change. The gym is way too small, the rooms are NOT sound proof, parking is ridiculous, the 8th floor is a continuation of frat row, work orders take WAY too long to process, they will come into your apartment without 24 hour written notice, management is incompetent and does not care about you or your problems- once you have signed a lease you may as well not exist to them. No one is going to re-sign their leases next year so they have to really do some kissing of our feet before we can gain any sort of trust or respect from them.

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