(Co-written with News Reporter Philip McKeon)
On Wednesday morning, President Danny Anderson sent an email to the Trinity community announcing that the university had acquired the City Vista apartments located off of Hildebrand.
According to the email announcement, the apartments will be open to juniors and seniors starting in the fall of 2017. Anderson said that the purchase will provide Trinity students with more housing options and greater opportunities to grow as people.
“There are two key factors that made me recommend exploring this purchase. First, 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. They liked the community experience of campus life, and at the same time wanted a bit more privacy and independence by the time they were juniors and seniors. The appeal of the North Hall renovation to create private bedrooms demonstrated the reality of this interest. Second, 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,” Anderson said.
Melissa Flowers, director of Residential Life, also believes that this addition to Trinity housing is positive for students looking for alternative living arrangements.
“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 said.
The announcement was met with mixed reactions from students. Zeina Zayat, junior, said that this could make her search for off-campus housing for next year easier.
“I’d always planned on living off campus my senior year, and most likely still will, but having gone through some of the process of finding a place off campus, I can say that it would definitely be a lot easier and would save a lot of effort to just get a place through Trinity,” Zayat said.
Some Trinity students are already living at City Vista. Eliza Ozden, junior, confirms that apartment-style living at City Vista is indeed a step above traditional dorms.
“When I was given the opportunity to live off campus, I immediately took it because I wanted to escape the cramped upperclassmen dorms and the stress of living under Trinity’s supervision. While living at City Vista has forced me to take on adult responsibilities like paying bills, etc., my living situation is definitely more luxurious than anything Trinity could have offered me, and the rent is cheaper than living on campus,” Ozden said.
Senior Lauren Harris said that the purchase is a great thing for Trinity, however she has some questions about the logistics of transforming the apartment complex into student housing.
“They’re diversifying their investments, which I think is great. I’m glad they’re doing it, but I wonder if I am paying less than what students will be paying in the future or if I’ll be paying more. I wonder what’s going to happen to that apartment complex and if it’s going to stay the nice, quiet, adult living that I wanted or if it’s going to completely change the rental market in San Antonio,” Harris said.
In the email, Anderson said that the purchase will respect current leases.
“Trinity will maintain the current leases and immediately begin the transition process so that City Vista Apartments will operate as student housing starting Fall 2017. The University will develop a plan for its usage that is consistent with Residential Life policies and the selection of occupants,” Anderson said.
However, even though the university will respect those currently living at City Vista, there will come a time when it will be converted to housing for only Trinity students.
“Now that we can work openly with the management team at City Vista, we will develop a transition process. We want to keep the building occupied as long as possible, but we need a clear transition point. We have retained the services of the management team at City Vista to help us work through the transition process,” Anderson said.
One concern expressed by Zayat is whether or not living in City Vista will be affordable.
“One of the perks of being a senior and getting to live off campus in the first place is getting out of the Trinity bubble and getting much nicer accommodations for a fraction of what you’d pay on campus. Obviously you’d get the nicer accommodations at City Vista, but we’ll see what they do with the price. I really doubt it would be as affordable as living off campus,” Zayat said.
One question that has come up with this purchase is how much it will cost to live in the apartments. According to Harris, it costs about $925 a month to live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a roommate.
Sophomore Isa Medina said that the cost of the housing would factor into her decision of wanting to live there.
“I’d definitely want to live there my junior year if I could, but only if it were reasonably priced like a normal apartment,” Medina said.
In a follow-up email to the campus, Flowers informed students that more information would become available to students over the next couple of weeks.
“We have already begun working to prepare for this transition and will contact you in the coming weeks with detailed information regarding apartment availability, the room reservation process and pricing structures for the new spaces,” Flowers said.
While there haven’t been any set plans on how much it will cost to live at City Vista, Anderson said that it will be more expensive than other housing options.
“We will have a pricing scale for all of our residential living options, including City Vista Apartments. The apartments will be more expensive than residence hall rooms but I do not know our exact pricing yet,” Anderson said
Harris, who currently lives at City Vista, said that Residential Life faces a lot of logistical difficulties.
“I think it’s going to depend on how much they want to overpower the existing tenants with their rules or if those will be specific only to students. I wonder, will TUPD now be patrolling that area; is this going to be essentially just another dorm room that was made by someone else? It’ll be interesting what ResLife has to come up with in order for this to work,” Harris said.
Furthermore, as a current resident, Harris worries that the purchase will take away from what made City Vista so appealing to Trinity students in the first place.
“If we’re excluding price considerations, it would be in my mind considering another type of dorm room, albeit a nicer quality and more private dorm room. But I specifically, ironically, chose this place because mainly adults live there and I wanted quiet and I didn’t want any noise. So honestly if I knew this was occurring and I knew this was student housing, I would choose somewhere else,” Harris said.
Ozden also said that she would most likely not try to live in City Vista again after Trinity takes it over.
“When I read that Trinity had bought City Vista and planned to move upperclassmen here, I instantly worried about the maintenance of the building. The amenities will be abused and not cared for properly, as is the case oftentimes in the dorms. So to answer your question: no, I would not still want to live here. Sign me up for Rosemont,” Ozden said.