Res. Life hopes to relieve shortage with apartments
University housing may be available to 434 more UA students if the Arizona Board of Regents today approves Residence Life's request to lease three off-campus apartment complexes.
The University of Arizona Department of Residence Life hopes to lease the 242-bed Sky View Apartments, 1050 E. Eighth St., to house students this fall.
In addition, the department would like to renew its leases on Corleone Apartments, 1330 N. Park Ave., and Palm Shadows Apartments, 1815 E. Helen St.
Although UA currently houses 77 students in Palm Shadows, 192 spaces would be added under the proposed plan.
Associate Director of Residence Life Pam Obando said the complexes will be marketed to returning students who would like to try independent living, but still need some guidance.
"What we're offering for the apartments is kind of a nice transition," Obando said. "It's kind of a bridge between the housing shortage now and having the new residence halls."
Obando added that parents should find the apartment option attractive, because the buildings will feature live-in staff and educational programming pertinent to apartment living, such as cooking or shopping tips.
Sky View and Palm Shadows will be leased on a temporary, one to three-year basis while two new dorms are being built near La Paz Residence Hall. The dorms, expected to house about 700 undergraduates, should be completed by fall 2003.
In addition, renovations to Pima House will make room for 80 more residents by next year, and a graduate housing facility north of Coronado Residence Hall is also planned for 2002.
Obando said current Sky View and Palm Shadow residents will be provided will alternative housing options by their management. However, the students may remain in their apartments and become a part of the UA Residence Life system if they desire.
"If there's somebody who wants to, and fills out an application, they could do that," she said, adding that the main purpose of leasing the apartments is to serve the students who have already turned in housing applications, especially freshmen.
Obando said about 5,300 students - 4,100 of them freshmen - will need dorm rooms next year. The apartment complexes are the best viable option to accommodate that many students.
The only alternatives to leasing the apartment complexes would be to convert dorm study lounges to resident rooms, making rooms triple capacity, or utilizing a lottery system, she added.
"I think it (apartments) makes so much sense," Obando said. "We're not making a long-term commitment and hopefully it will be a good transition."
Rates for the apartments will be higher than for traditional residence halls, but not "astronomical," Obando said.
"Residence Life is not going to make any money on this - but we're trying not to lose money, and be fair to students," she said.
Regent Judy Gignac said leasing the apartment complexes would help "plug the hole" in housing that exists while the new dorms are being built.
"They have to do something, obviously," Gignac said. "Everything they've tried up 'til now has been pretty much shot down. It's tough."
Gignac said there are contradicting pressures involved in leasing off-campus housing. Though the demand for undergraduate housing is always present, some Tucson residents do not want UA or student presence in their neighborhood, Gignac said.
In June, the UA had planned to purchase Casa Feliz Apartments, 1201 E. Drachman St., but backed off because of neighborhood concerns.
But since the areas Residence Life is eyeing are already primarily student-populated, there should be few problems, she added.
"Leasing them on a short-term basis while getting those other buildings on line in the next few years is the only way to alleviate this," Gignac said.
Christine Thompson, a UA law student and student Regent, agreed that the apartments would ease the campus housing need, as well as give more students who prefer the dorm atmosphere the opportunity to stay with Residence Life.
"I think this is going to be a good solution to tide the university over for the next couple of years," said Thompson.