Sense of place

What students say about living in their luxury apartments

What residents of new student apartment buildings say about their buildings, beyond the amenities and campus shuttles.
Published: May 17, 2019 | Updated: May 20th, 2019 at 3:35 pm

The Skyler. The Marshall. When the buildings look the same, sound the same  and the shuttles are lined up on Waverly Avenue, how can prospective tenants know which apartment complex is for them? Past and current residents reveal what sets their home apart.

The Marshall: They Love the Nightlife

The Marshall apartments.
The Marshall opened on South Crouse Avenue, just off Marshall Street, in 2018.

The Marshall is so close to nightlife that residents can walk to the bars in winter without wearing a coat. “A perk of this place is definitely that it’s close to the bars, so if you’re not interested in that it’s just not worth it. Lucy’s is right there. If you’re trying to stay in it’s just not a chance,” said tenant Allie Moore.

Residents report staying in their rooms as opposed to mingling with neighbors, a habit they attribute to already living with friends and having a space they enjoy spending time in. But it’s also become the place to invite friends. “This is where all the formal pregames are,” Moore said. “I’ve had some pretty hilarious encounters in the elevators.”

But these residents of the newest, closest, glossiest building, students aren’t exactly scrappy. “You can’t do laundry because people leave it down there for days. Last semester they sent out an email. It’s like they think their mom does it for them,” said Lilia Wood.

The 505: The Kid Who Everyone’s Friends With Because of Their House

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Students study in the lounge at The 505 on EastGenesee Street

“The best way to describe this place is you’re gonna be living as if you’re living in a dorm but with a little more privacy than if you were living in a dorm,” says resident Parker Sanford.

“A lot more,” interrupts his roommate, Matt Savignano.

“…And you’re allowed to do all the dumb shit you’d do as a freshman in the dorm, but you take little more respect because you feel like you’re paying,” Sanford said.

“You’re allowed to drink anywhere and everywhere,” added Savignano, who moved into the 505 after a semester abroad. “It’s supposed to be a social living environment so there’s nothing against it.”

Kristine Kim signed a lease to live in a studio in the 505 next year, after a friend recommended it. “When I told my non-Asian friends about where I’m going to be living in the fall, they weren’t that surprised because they said that’s where all the international or Asian students live,” Kim said. “People are both excited and jealous. I guess not many of my friends are able to afford to live at the 505 since the rent is pretty expensive, so I think more jealousy than excitement.”

Theory: The Quiet Kid Whose Mom Tries To Make Friends For Them

The courtyard at Theory, with tables, chairs and grills.
Students who live at Theory can grill and lounge outside - weather permitting.

Situated a full 15-minute walk from the quad, Theory is removed from campus in almost every way. What sets it apart is the range of people that live there. While it’s mostly undergrads, there are a ton of grad students, some professors and even a family with a child, according to the front desk.

Standing in a lobby filled with people chatting and dogs running around, tenant Zezheng (Daniel) Jiang says he doesn’t know any of his immediate neighbors, but that he’s made a lot of friends in the building through his dog.

Despite a lackluster social scene, the staff work overtime to put on events that attempt to foster a sense of community. One Thursday afternoon in late March, they hosted a luau themed grand opening for their most infamous amenity: the Theory hot tub. Decorations adorned the spacious lobby, from flower print tablecloths to orchid shaped string lights and bouncy ceiling decals. About a half hour before the event was set to start, staff hurried around arranging snacks and trying to find beach themed music. It ended up raining, but students lingered anyway to play ping pong and pool. Dogs ran around and those who had tested the tub gave good reports. “It’s a nice break from school and work and stuff,” says Daniel Oliva. “That’s the nice thing about living in Theory. Every weekend they’ll have events. Like free food and entertainment.”

Jiang, who is from China, said that international students keep the building peaceful. “Chinese students are quiet. American students are very loud. We have a lot of Chinese students living here.”

Park Point: The Greek Row Annex

Park Point apartments on Comstock Avenue.

Situated equidistant (two blocks) from either greek row, amid dorms and a short walk to the most academic buildings, Park Point reads like a luxury dorm. It looks like a hotel lobby, but without any actual adults. Though its location is almost as good as the Marshall and it shares many of the same amenities, Park Point generated considerable less buzz this year than the newer apartments this year.

Senior Jackie Abrams says the Park Point crowd is largely involved in greek life, and walls are thin enough to hear your neighbors’ pre-games. Chino Rubino, a fifth-year architecture student, says hers like to chant “Let’s do another line.” While resident Cole Singer describes the noise level as relatively low, around 11 p.m. she can hear people on their way out.

Abrams describes her neighbors as “people who are used to amenities,” and a cleaning staff cleans up after students every weekday.

Rubino, the architecture student, says the largely undergrad presence becomes apparent on the weekends, when cleaning staff are off and elevators become soiled with evidence of late nights involving everything from ketchup to vomit.

So there are people to bring you food and clean up your messes, but that doesn’t come without the tradeoff of supervision. “We do have a security guard on duty, quote on quote, so if you’re throwing a huge, insane rager they’ll probably come in,” Singer said. “We’ve been spoken to in the past. In a house, you have more freedom, but I don’t think that much more.”

UPoint – DIY

A female student sits in a covered booth with an orange and blue color-scheme.

While it’s only a few blocks away from campus, UPoint can feel disconnected at times, especially from traditional off-campus houses. “Most people are more willing to come to my house now than they were to my apartment,” said former resident Cheyenne Gratale. “And it’s easier to host people when you have a whole house versus just a little living room that’s connected to your kitchen.”

The building has a mix of international students and greek life devotees, she said, but not a lot of mingling. “A lot of it was in passing. A lot of people would run in and play a game of basketball and then go upstairs. They would never really hang out,” Gratale said.

Copper Beech Commons – The Clubhouse

A net is strung across a dirt floor.
The indoor "beach" volleyball court at Copper Beech Commons.

Much like other buildings, management hosts events meant to bring students together, but whether they’re effective is less clear. “There’s a lot of things to help you get to know neighbors,” Ryan Cooney said. “Every other Friday they have movie nights and things like that. There are common areas but I don’t really ever see people in them. I don’t really know many people around me.”

The residents are mostly undergrads, says resident Lucy Sun, a Newhouse graduate student. “I think there are house parties because I sometimes can hear the noise, but very rare.”

UV: Party City

The main office for University Village also has a fitness center and tanning booth.

There party scene predominates here among the population of student-athletes and students in greek life. “It’s probably not the best environment for graduate students like myself who enjoy more quiet areas,” resident Marissa Sharpe said.

“In terms of noises and stuff like that, I think it depends on building to building because it seems like the front buildings are much more tamed,” senior Cleo Adebiyi said. “I live in 413 and if you go into my building right now there’s still red cups and bottles and everything from the weekend and my building often has like the vomit splatter and stuff like that. If you go to the back there’s a whole mural of vomit.”

Skyler Commons – Keep It To Yourself

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Residents of Skyler Commons on Harrison Street have access to fitness and other facilities at sister-property Copper Beech Commons.

Situated just behind Marshall Street, Skyler Commons contains exclusively studio apartments, and has no common areas or amenities. Programming such as free food or movie nights happens at sister property Copper Beech.

“Most of the people that I’ve seen in Skyler are international students. I’ve seen some economics majors and journalism majors and another computer science major, pretty much a mix of everything,” said resident Terry Weiss.

“I haven’t really interacted with too many people but the people that I’ve spoken with seem really nice and down-to-earth, very social it seems. People I’ve spoken with have gone out to parties and stuff. It’s a little bit expensive so probably it could be a little more uppity, maybe, but I haven’t noticed that.”

Aspen – A Far-away Land

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The game room at Aspen doubles as a study lounge with a view.

Located a mile and a half from campus with unreliable shuttles, Aspen is removed from campus in every way. Among largely car-less undergrads, it’s not very popular.

Justin Young, a senior history major, said that many residents of Aspen are graduate students and student-athletes. “The vibe is really cool like everybody gets their work done, everyone is cordial with each other,” he said. “The atmosphere is really nice, the energy is always positive. The grad students and athletes are hardly here but if they are they’re doing their work and that’s just all around the complex so I don’t have any problems in that aspect.”

Additional reporting by Michaela Greer.

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is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.