Luxury Apartments Becoming Standard at MSU

They have amenities that come standard at some hotels and resorts, but they are becoming ordinary for college students across the country. Luxury apartments are the new big thing in off-campus housing.

 
  • It's one of the first things you see when you walk toward the leasing office at Chandler Crossings in Bath Township: a fountain towers over you, casting a steady stream of water into the pool at foot level. Speakers play Top-40 tunes and colored lights twinkle with the music.

  • "The whole idea is to take the off-campus living experience to a whole new level," says Gerry Sawyer, who represents the ownership at Chandler Crossings. "We felt your first impression is your lasting impression."

  • And the fountain is just the beginning. At Chandler, the sidewalks are heated and the coffee and bus passes are free. Three swimming pools are surrounded by five indoor basketball courts.

  • "Everybody wants the absolute best for their children and for themselves," says Sawyer. "And so if you can give them a safe environment that's beautiful, that has all the amenities that you want and that you really desire, then where else would you want to live?"

  • The rooms alone are luxurious. New lighting, brand new wood flooring accent the stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

  • And when you leave your room and enter a computer lab, new desktops operate high-speed internet and link to free printers. Gyms, open 24 hours, boast the newest equipment.

  • There's even a virtual fitness center where personalized workouts may be selected on a touch screen. A projector screen drops from the ceiling and a professionally-led workout is yours.

  • Sawyer acknowledges it seems like a luxurious student paradise. "Well what's wrong with that?" he asks. "Why can't you aspire to have more? As a student, why would you have to live in an apartment that didn't offer anything?"

  • Sawyer defends the 24-hour tanning beds and virtual fitness centers as comforts that can help students feel good when everything else is cold and dreary outside. "We want to be a 24/7 year-round community that you have whatever you need," he says.

  • But Chandler is not alone. Similar complexes are springing up all over East Lansing. Hannah Lofts is just one example. It's under construction now, but plans to offer restaurant space, steam rooms and free workout classes by the time it opens next year.

  • "The standard has been raised and the demand is there," says Bill Pursifull of Wolverine Building Group. "So every time they raise the standard, it basically creates a demand in that market because the students want to live in the nicest, in the newest, in the best."

  • It leaves some to wonder how Michigan State University, which features the third largest dormitory system in the country, can keep up.Dr. Kathy Collins, director of residence education and housing services at MSU says no complex, no matter its offerings, can match the location of the dorms and on-campus housing.

  • "We are always going to be hopefully the most conveniently located property on campus," Collins says, adding its academic services are unparalleled. "We provide academic advising, tutoring, health services, fitness classes right in our residence hall facilities. So our students have conveniently located amenities of all types."

  • Collins says MSU's student retention rate is more than healthy. Forty-seven percent of students return to on-campus housing after their first year. But the school has adapted over the years to match off-campus offerings. It has revamped some of its dining halls and this year has introduced free laundry. Collins says MSU is proud of the services it offers and its neighborhood-style housing is emulated by colleges and universities around the country. "We are the leader in that and we want to continue to provide that service," she says. "And our goal as a staff at Michigan State University is to continue to be a leader in the housing industry."

  • The owners at Chandler Crossings want their complex to be a leader too. A $9 million renovation is underway as the complex continues to push the standards of off-campus student living, pulling off-campus competition with it.

  • "Why be satisfied?" says Sawyer. "What we're trying to do is we're listening to our customer too. What do they want, what do they need? And what do we already have that can be taken a notch higher? And that's what we're trying to do."

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