May marks the end of the first year of Trinity students living in the City Vista apartments on the corner of Hildebrand and Devine.
Trinity purchased City Vista in January 2017. In an email to the campus community, Danny Anderson, president of the university, explained that the university prioritized student feedback when making the decision to purchase the apartments.
“Since I became president at Trinity, I have listened to students. One message that I heard was that students liked the residential living experience and they wanted additional options with greater independence,” Anderson wrote. “The campus master planning process included student surveys and student focus groups. A key finding there was the interest in apartment-style living opportunities on campus to provide more privacy and independence.”
Melissa Flowers, then the director of Residential Life, thought that City Vista’s more independent living arrangement would benefit students’ personal growth.
“Providing students with increased autonomy in their living environment as they progress through their time at the university better prepares them for productive and successful lives after graduation,” Flowers told the Trinitonian last January.
David Tuttle, dean of students and interim director of Residential Life, spoke about why City Vista is currently in high demand from juniors and seniors.
“The benefits, I think, are the proximity to campus, the fact that upperclassman students are living with other students who they’ve already established a relationship and community with, the facility itself was built as a luxury apartment building,” Tuttle said. “And so I think it’s just a really nice apartment, and it gives students an opportunity to be off the meal plan and to do their own cooking.”
Tuttle said that City Vista’s first year has gone well overall, and that more seniors have signed up to live in City Vista next year than did last year.
However, life at City Vista hasn’t been without its challenges. On April 9, Tuttle sent an email to City Vista residents reporting incidents of vandalism, theft and “trashing” of the apartment building over the previous weekend.
“I think we have an unwritten social contract with students, sharing our mutual desire that City Vista remain nice for current and future residents,” Tuttle wrote in the email. “Additionally, we are all hoping that the students there, all juniors and seniors, can live maturely and autonomously without intrusion from the staff. In order to strike this precarious balance I ask that you care for the facility and respect your neighbors.”
According to Tuttle, this situation is rare at City Vista.
“That email was sent just to encourage people to take care of [City Vista] and to let them know what the consequences would be if people were found to be damaging property, committing vandalism or theft or disrupting the facility,” Tuttle said. “We want this facility to be taken care of for future generations of students. It’s not just about people that are there now; it’s about making this an attractive option for students next year, in five years, 10 years from now.”
Laura Twomey, a junior currently living in City Vista, enjoys the apartments’ proximity to Trinity.
“I really enjoy kind of getting the off-campus experience while still being really close to campus,” Twomey said. “It’s a really nice walk there and back, and it’s a quick drive too, but still off-campus — like you have your own apartment, your own space, there’s a little less regulation there — but it’s still in the Trinity community.”
Twomey said that a drawback to living at City Vista is that maintenance issues can be slow to resolve.
“One of the things that I’ve noticed is the maintenance isn’t always taken care of super quickly, although the maintenance people are very nice and very helpful,” Twomey said. “When we first moved in this semester, people had just been living here, so there were a lot of issues like mold in the dishwasher. … The latest thing is that the apartment above us flooded because their washing machine broke, so we had water leaking from our ceiling, but they fixed it up, and it stopped.”
Rachel Shepherd, a Trinity alumna who graduated in 2017, lived in City Vista.
“City Vista was more expensive but my roommate and I liked the amenities, so we did some crunching and decided that we could afford it,” Shepherd said.
Despite the cost, Shepherd thinks City Vista lives up to its value.
“I liked how spacious the dorms were compared to the dorms in Lightner Hall, where I lived the prior year,” Shepherd said. “Because I like to cook, I also enjoyed having a full kitchen, which made it easier for me to cook food. Not having to eat campus food made it easier for me to control my food choices.”
Stephanie Ackerman, assistant director of Housing Operations, and Jamie Ward, property management coordinator, oversee City Vista’s daily operations.
In September, the Trinitonian wrote an article about City Vista’s struggles with trash pickup. Students had been leaving trash in their stairwells, instead of placing their trash cans in their hallways in accordance with City Vista trash pickup procedures.
According to Ackerman, the trash pickup issues at City Vista have been resolved.
“GCA now manages the valet trash service. While there is certainly still litter scattered throughout the property, I’ve seen a significant decrease in trash bags being left in stairwells or next to non-designated trash bins,” Ackerman wrote in an email interview. “We were communicating quite often with students regarding these issues at one point, but I believe the changes made to the trash policy have remedied some of our issues.”
Ackerman responded to complaints that City Vista is too expensive compared to off-campus apartments.
“I don’t know that students necessarily take into consideration that the cost of living at City Vista includes cable, internet, utilities, light furnishings, campus resources — including on-call facilities staff — on-site parking, access to amenities, a washer/dryer in-unit, etc.,” Ackerman wrote. “Students can essentially live ‘off’ of main campus, yet still take advantage of the resources the university provides.”
Residential Life held focus groups in the fall semester for potential changes to City Vista, and some changes have already been implemented.
“We’ve extended the hours of the lounge and the game room and have adjusted the valet trash service to better accommodate student schedules,” Ackerman wrote. “We also added a recycling option on every trash service day — before, there was only one day designated for recycling.”
Ackerman wrote that Residential Life plans to improve the City Vista experience next year.
“We’re planning on providing more opportunities for community building next year, and hosting programs that students have stated would be most helpful to them — i.e. how to do taxes, how to budget,” Ackerman wrote. “We’re still in a period of transition, therefore I highly anticipate making changes that will improve student experiences throughout the next several years.”