MU might lease space in off-campus apartments for graduate students

Friday, May 2, 2014 | 7:27 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU is considering leasing space in a private apartment complex off campus to offer more housing options for graduate students. 

A survey was sent to current and prospective residents of university-owned graduate housing in April, the results of which were obtained by the Missourian via an open records request.

The Department of Residential Life operates University Student Apartments, which is apartment-style housing intended for graduate students, students with families and older students.

The survey was created to help Residential Life understand the needs of these students and "assist us in gauging housing demand for the next school year," according to an email sent to residents by University Student Apartments Office Manager Mark Partise. 

In the next year, two of the university's four University Student Apartment complexes will close, costing the school a total of 187 units. University Village will be demolished in June, and Manor House will close for renovations in May 2015. There will be 335 units in Tara Apartments, University Heights and Manor House for the 2014-15 school year. 

MU spokesman Christian Basi said in an email in April that there are 100 anticipated vacancies in University Student Apartments and about 150 current and incoming students that have requested housing.

After the University Village walkway collapse, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin requested an evaluation of campus housing options, according to previous Missourian reporting. In cooperation with this evaluation, the MU Graduate Professional Council held a public forum on April 2 for graduate students to voice comments and concerns about housing. 

The survey asked students if they would be interested in living in an off-campus apartment and gave two possible options, referred to as "Option A" and "Option B." 

The two apartments are the only ones that both met the university's needs and were willing to enter into a master lease with the university, Basi said. The apartments needed to be close to campus, have public transportation and be big enough to accommodate families, he said. 

The apartments would be intended specifically for students who meet the requirements for living in University Student Apartments, and not younger undergraduates. The master lease allows residents to contract housing through the university and have rent charged to their student accounts, according to the survey. 

Basi said the option to pay one bill through the university is the main benefit of a master lease for students — particularly international students.

The university already has a master lease agreement for undergraduate housing with Campus View Apartments; the university-leased apartments are called Tiger Diggs.

About half of the 165 anonymous survey respondents said they would be interested in living in an off-campus apartment. 

Option A is on the west side of Columbia, about 4 miles from the MU Student Center, according to the survey. It has both one- and two-bedroom units, which range from $525 per month for a one-bedroom to $635 per month for a two-bedroom. 

Option B is about 2 miles from the student center, according to the survey. It has only two-bedroom units, which range from $600 to $710 a month. 

Both complexes can accommodate families, although Option B allows only two children per unit, and the lease cannot be renewed once the younger child turns 2 years old. 

The university-run apartments are all within a mile of campus. Tara is the furthest at 0.9 miles. They consist of one and two-bedroom options with rent ranging from $440 for a one-bedroom at University Heights to $720 for a two-bedroom at Manor House.

Respondents selected affordability and proximity to campus as their main concerns with the options in the survey. 

About 44 percent said they would prefer Option A, while only 13.7 percent preferred Option B. About 42 percent said they preferred neither option. 

Basi said he could not comment on which complexes the university is considering since no decision has been made. The needs identified in the survey are still being analyzed to determine which option — if any — the university will choose, he said. 

The university will probably not enter into a lease at two locations, according to the survey. 

Basi said there is no particular time frame for when a decision will be made regarding a master lease.

View University Student Apartments in a larger map

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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