Student Housing: WSU may lease apartments

Student Housing: WSU may lease apartments

WSU will focus on residence halls. Kamiak and Terrace could be replaced by summer 2011.

As part of an agreement between WSU and American Campus Communities – a student-housing company based out of Austin, Texas – the apartments Kamiak and Terrace may be demolished.

Under the agreement, ACC would manage the Kamiak and Terrace apartments with a lease of 65 to 85 years and potentially replace the apartments with new complexes.

The Kamiak and Terrace apartments, located on Merman Drive and Valley Road, respectively, combine for 199 units. According to WSU’s Housing and Dining Web site, the two facilities are the most affordable family housing units the university leases.

“In July of 2008 we completed a request for proposals to try to get a third party to manage our existing apartments,” said Cynthia Arbour, project manager for the student housing apartments project for Capital Planning and Development. “We’ve been working with them since then. (ACC) proposed to demolish Kamiak and Terrace apartments. Now we’re asking them to build new apartments before the old ones are torn down.” Arbour said WSU initially requested ACC to build new complexes and transfer the residents of Kamiak and Terrace to the new units. ACC is in the process of reviewing their options with CPD, because the request to build new apartments before demolishing the old has been brought forth. They will know more in a few weeks, she said.

“The most important development is that we’re going to insist there’s a place for the Kamiak and Terrace residents to go to,” she said.

Arbour also said she hopes to engage residents in focus meetings in September to learn what specifications they seek in the potentially new-built units.

Also, to ease the students’ concerns of a future housing situation, the Graduate and Professional Student Association is seeking to create an online landlord property database. GPSA President Jason McConnell said it will include a list of landlords and properties in town by address.

He said it came to his attention during the summer that a number of graduate students were becoming concerned with WSU entering an agreement with ACC to transfer the apartments’ lease. He said the matter is problematic because as much as 80 percent of the apartments’ residents are graduate students.

McConnell also said faulty information has been circulated regarding future housing options, causing many residents to believe they would be forced to search for a new residence.

Danielle Clark, a resident of the Terrace apartments and a mother of an 8-year-old, said she recently received an e-mail from the WSU administration, which details the postponement of the apartments’ demolition from summer 2010 to summer 1011. She said the message stated the apartments will remain intact until new complexes are constructed.

“I’m planning to stay here until they make me leave – until it’s demolished,” Clark said. “I think diversity is something (WSU) should be protecting, not something they destroy.” The message assured residents of new family housing options upon the buildings’ destruction. However, Clark said it made no mention of whether or not the rent will remain the same. Clark said she pays $480 a month to rent a two-bedroom unit, whereas other WSU family housing two-bedroom apartments go for a minimum of $580.

The deal between WSU and ACC benefits both entities, Arbour said.

“For (WSU), it allows us to focus more on our residential halls,” she said. “It simplifies our focus so we can really make sure the residential life is a rich one. We’re trying to do this to help the students out. The goal is to help people have better housing, and we’re working hard to do that.”

by Taras Zhulev for The Daily Evergreen


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