When it comes to apartment amenities, luxury has different definitions

When it comes to apartment amenities, luxury has different definitions

From dog parks and tiny gyms to big bathrooms and in-unit laundry, each building promises its own perks.
Published: May 17, 2019 | Updated: May 20th, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Almost all of the new student housing that’s gone up in the past two years brags about the same luxuries: individual bedrooms with private bathrooms, in-unit washers and dryers, common spaces and study rooms, a gym, parking for an additional fee and shuttle services. Regardless of the building, residents agree that kitchens in quads aren’t big enough to accommodate four people. And while security seems to be a deciding factor in choosing an apartment over traditional off campus housing, the general consensus is that while doors are locked, if you want in, someone will let you. We talked to students in every building to find out which yoga studios don’t have floors, whether the gym fits more than one person, and if the bathrooms are missing doors.

The Marshall Amenities Breakdown

As the newest, closest to campus and most well advertised building, The Marshall promotes itself as the epitome of luxury student housing. The website advertises study rooms (sorry, ‘thought centers,’) a coffee shop, bar, and something called the M Lounge, whose pool tables and TVs promise to allow a “family of like minded individuals’ to get to know each other.“

Study rooms were finished halfway through the spring semester, and restaurants remain under construction. As for customer service, the employees are new to this, and it shows. Lillia Wood went two months without a bathroom door. Paris Acquaro arrived having paid one month’s rent, to find her door locked. She slept in her roommate’s bed for five days before management let her in.

An app called Butterfly allows students to see who’s at the front door and unlock it remotely. They can even check who the last person who buzzed in was. Round the clock security provides extra peace of mind.

Noise is ever-present. Tenants are close to the Marshall Street bars, closer still to their neighbor’s pregame, and connected to one person’s bathroom to roomates’ bedrooms via unfortunately placed vents. “If you’re not a fan of the bar scene, it’s definitely not the place for you,” one tenant said.

Location might be the biggest amenity of all. “I can leave for my 11 am at 10:56,” said one Whitman student. “I literally never leave a 500 foot vicinity.”

Park Point Amenities Breakdown

Senior Jackie Lamancuso studies in the game room, which sees so little action that it’s a perfect quiet area. Resident Cole Singer enjoys the outdoor grilling area, when it’s sunny out. (“It’s like a three-week window for the entire school year,” Singer said.)

The gym is nice, too, if you’re in there alone. “It fits literally two bodies,” says architecture student Chino Rubino. The advertised coffee bar ended up being a self-service machine with a few bottles of CoffeeMate, which senior Jackie Abrams said costs the same price as Starbucks anyway.

No private bathrooms here, are there are only two per quad, but sink and mirror areas are separate.

Fees can add up: $200 for an application, $70 to replace a key fob, and $800 to park. Residents complained about dark living rooms (BYO lamps), a lack of study rooms, and poor communication from management. Abrams learned this when her water was turned off mid-shower, without warning. But in terms of location, few apartments are better, she said.

“Apartments don’t get closer besides Toad,” Abrams said. “It’s definitely too expensive, but it’s the best of what’s offered.”

The 505 amenities breakdown

The campus shuttle comes by every 30 minutes. One cold February morning around 9:15, so many students filtered onto the shuttle that some had to stand. Five blocks away, several of them get off at the first stop, Starbucks, to pick up their mobile orders. Some more students got off on Waverly Avenue, near Newhouse and the Health Center, and just four exited in front of the law school, and by the time it reached SUNY ESF, there was just one student remaining. One student who lives in another building admits to taking the 505 shuttle when hers is late. “The 505 shuttle, it’s really nice,” she said.

The management seems to be accomodating, so much so that during the fall semester, when Matt Savigano studied abroad, his roommates not only didn’t have to find a replacement, the management unlocked his empty bedroom for them.

High efficiency appliances offset students who are less than frugal with their utility allowance. “We pretty much always leave our lights on,” Savigano said.

Theory amenities breakdown.

Daniel Jiang said it was important to him that his building be pet friendly, and that he’s met most of the people he knows in the building through his dog. But it has its downsides. “They say they’re dog friendly, but I think it’s too friendly because it’s too nice and nobody controls the pooping part. In the winter it’s like grenades,” Jiang said.

There are other perks, too. Residents report free food offered almost every Friday and on holidays. Past favorites include Chipotle, Jimmy John’s and Dominos. Jiang said his bathroom was so big he could sleep in it. “The closet is pretty big too,” he added. “I think even for girls that would be totally good.“

More than one resident complained about a building that feels as though it was put together in a hurry. “When we moved in our garbage disposal was broken and our floorboards lifted up,” said graduate student Angela Rifenburg, who says she submits service requests once or twice a month.

U Point amenities breakdown

While senior Cheyenne Gratale praised the new appliances in the kitchens, she maintained that it’s not worth the price. “It was probably a nicer stove than I have in my house at home. Everything was very up to date and clean,” Gratale said. “As far as luxury housing goes, with U Point it was the bare minimum of what could classify as luxury. The beds weren’t great. The rooms were small. I don’t think it was worth the $1100 or $1200 a month. And location wise, it’s like all the way down University Avenue. So I don’t think it’s worth the money,” Gratale said.

Resident Laurie Boucicaut said she often felt like she lived far away from campus. “Location was one of the downfalls,” she said. “If I wanted to go out no one would come to me.”  

Copper Beech Commons amenities breakdown

Copper Beech may feel far from the quad, but that also makes it quiet. The noise here is “non-existent,” said resident Ryan Cooney. “I think the location is a nice area. It’s just a straight shot up University Avenue and there a lot restaurants along the way,” Cooney said.

Graduate student Lucy Sun said that a lot of people use the gym, which offers free training sessions, yoga and zumba. Plus, someone cleans it every day. “It’s good to have a gym in your building because in winter time you just don’t want to go out,”  Sun said. “It’s a small gym, but I like that I can just go downstairs.”

UV amenities breakdown

University Village sits adjacent to SU’s south campus, though the rent is comparable to the luxury apartments near main campus. The website advertises a gym, game room, movie theater, coffee station, lounge with a fireplace, a ‘community clubhouse,’  study rooms and a business center. Situated about two miles from campus, it’s one of the furthest apartment complexes, though they offer free parking, which in unheard of, and it’s a stop on the busses that run constantly to and from south and main campuses.

Graduate student Marissa Sharpe doesn’t seem to mind the distance. “The location and the bus system can’t be beat. It’s within walking distance of Tops, Walgreens and UPS. It is also very safe with it being a part of South Campus and the gate closing at night,” Sharpe said.

The real luxury just might be the in-unit laundry, one resident said: “It’s definitely a blessing. And we use it all the time.”

Skyler Commons amenities

Skyler Commons has only studio apartments, and while residents do have access to a gym and game room, they have to go to sister property Copper Beech Commons.

“One thing that’s kind of disappointing is that there’s really no space for guests to come over and hang out,” said junior Terry Weiss. “There’s this really tiny coffee table that you have next to your couch and that’s really much it. But it’s really nice not to have to worry about roommates.”

Perri Phelps said she loves the cleanliness and convenience, and that the noise level is minimal, just the occasional door slam or heavy walker above her that you could expect from living in an apartment. Management is attentive, too. When Phelps called on a recent Sunday, a maintenance worker was there within the hour.

Aspen amenities breakdown.

Aspen is about a mile and a half from campus with what tenants consider an unreliable shuttle. “If you miss [the shuttle] one time, you have to wait almost another hour because it’s never on time because it’s far away,” resident Justin Young said. “It’s either you get there early or you get there late. There’s no in-between.” Young added that the shuttles stop running at three, and aren’t offered over the summer. But for students with cars, the parking garages are covered and free.

A clubhouse area is popular with tenants, Young said. “I use it for homework purposes, interview purposes. I use the clubhouse TV. The clubhouse is really beneficial especially if you don’t have a laptop because they have computers in there and they have printing as well.”

Avatar for Emily Kelleher

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