Living Large: Students grapple with soaring prices in luxe off-campus housing
Students grapple with soaring cost of living
Rent increases at popular student living such as The 505 on Walnut, Park Point and UPoint are forcing some residents to live over budget.
For Syracuse University juniors and seniors, apartment life is a rite of passage. After two years of controlled chaos in the heavily monitored dorms, it’s finally time to break free from the maturity limbo of on-campus living and enter the second dimension of college freedom.
Your new space can be entirely yours, free from RAs prowling each floor or communal showers that require prayer and a deep breath before entering.
When following the social allure of the most popular off-campus complexes, it can be tough to decide between the amenity-studded buildings: 727 S. Crouse Ave.’s prime location between the bars and restaurants on Marshall St., The 505 on Walnut’s coffee shop and glowing outdoor courtyard, UPoint’s arcade and next-door barber shop and Park Point’s unbeatable distance from main campus and Greek row.
The choices are endless — and endlessly expensive.
With an increasingly saturated market of properties available to students and flashy new buildings on the block, some of SU’s most popular luxury off-campus apartments are raising their price tags.
For the 2024-2025 leasing season, The 505 on Walnut bumped up rental pricing for a four-bedroom apartment to $1,554 per month- a $258 hike from its 2023-2024 rental pricing for the exact same unit.
Rental listings for a four-bedroom apartment in UPoint increased as much as $458 for the 2024-2025 leasing season, depending on the floor plan. Park Point, too, will see yet another rent boost, shooting up to $1,644 for a four-bed/two-bath unit, after it had already increased $100 from the 2022-2023 pricing.
SU’s pursuit to buy up off-campus properties, including its 2021 purchase of 727 S. Crouse Ave., formerly The Marshall, and reorient them as on-campus living space proves competitive for luxury off-campus complexes.
Most recently, SU announced it will be transforming 727 S. Crouse Ave. Apartments into a second-year residence hall. Broadcast and digital journalism senior and 727 S. Crouse resident Zach Richter said he currently pays $1,700 in monthly rent for a four-bed/four-bath unit, which he shares with three roommates.
Richter, who lived in Park Point last fall before going abroad to London in the spring, noted improved safety precautions — including a security guard and doorman — and apartment quality in 727 S. Crouse compared to his unit in Park Point. While residing in Park Point, Richter said he paid $1,289 in monthly rent, though his $411 upgrade to 727 S. Crouse doesn’t include laundry amenities. However, the "deluxe" version of the 4-bedroom apartments does.
“Before the school owned it, there was a difference in price in these,” Richter said "The deluxe one has their own laundry room and the living room is triple the size of mine. They pay the same rent as I do, which is unfair.”
All units in 727 S. Crouse Ave. apartments have increased since SU’s 2021 purchase of the building, with a 4-bed/4-bath clocking in at $1,585 for the 2022-2023 season. Currently, 727 S. Crouse Ave’s priciest unit stands at $2,000.
On top of heightened rental rates, Richter said the process of leasing is an additional headache, explaining that for 727 S. Crouse Ave. leasing applications are not open until the university does its housing process, which is in the late spring. Because SU’s prime leasing time is the early fall, Richter said he could’ve ended up without any secured housing at all, had his application been rejected.
“It was very stressful knowing that I wanted to live here,” Richter said. “Every single person has housing already and if you want to live here, it’s first come first serve.”
Though living in so-called luxury isn’t the only option for upperclassmen housing, its offers of significant security protection, benefits of in-house study spaces and gyms and proximity to campus cause them to rank highly among students year after year.
Public relations senior and two-year Park Point resident Reese Cohen said safety was an important factor in determining where to lease, especially as a woman.
“My parents felt that the location and security of Park Point made the slightly higher rent worth it,” Cohen said. “It gave them peace of mind.”
Still, television, radio and film junior and The 505 on Walnut resident Ruby Mendelson said she and her roommate chose not to renew their current lease because the increased rental rate for next year isn’t “worth what we get here.”
“It’s nice that we have these amenities. But I don’t use the gym, I don’t study here and the study lounge doesn’t have WiFi,” Mendelson said. “What are we paying for if we’re not even using the extra stuff?”
While all luxury apartments feature a fitness center and laundry facilities, the complex and individual unit amenities differ despite a range of price points. The 505 on Walnut is one of the few apartment buildings to offer a private shuttle service to campus, though some units are listed at a $100 difference from UPoint. A four-bed/two-bath unit at Park Point for the 2024-2025 leasing season stands even pricier than The 505 at an extra $90 per month, not including utilities.
Public health and environmental sustainability junior and UPoint resident Cate Bobitz said she and her roommate chose UPoint because they believed it would be a cheaper option. However, Bobitz said she and her roommate have been charged extra for mysterious fees.
“We thought it was cheaper, and then when we actually got what the bill was, they hiked it up by maybe $500. Some of it is parking, parking’s like $200, but they also just try to charge us for stuff that doesn’t make sense," Bobitz said. "Katie got charged twice for a move-in fee. They just charge us for random sh*t and don’t tell us why.”
So why the extra cost? Bobitz and Richter agree it’s “because they can.”
“It’s harder and harder to find housing,” Bobitz explained. “All the popular complexes are not affordable. Once they keep raising prices, they’re just gonna push people further off-campus.”
Officials for The 505 on Walnut and UPoint did not respond to The NewsHouse’s request for comment. SU’s official off-campus housing team declined to comment on increased rental rates.
Still, with the introduction of brand-new buildings The Laurel – which opened for occupancy in 2023 — and The Coda — which is currently under construction and will open in 2024 — the boundaries of luxury are being pushed even further.
John Hoover III, CPA and CEO of Bridger Corp — the developer of The Coda — said the building will feature an outdoor pool with a thermal deck to ensure use even during Syracuse’s snowy winters, as well as a podcast room, two gyms, hot tubs, clubhouse and rooftop deck, TV lounge and pet washing station.
All units will include a washer and dryer, walk-in closets and a 55” smart TV. Some also include private balconies. Rental pricing varies from $900 to $2,200/$2,300 depending on the unit, according to Hoover.
“We put a lot of effort towards not just making it a cookie-cutter apartment place,” Hoover said. “We’re built a notch better with insulation and sound measures — these things that you don’t really see, but when you live there, they make the living a lot better.”