Hotel near U will be condos

The Best Western Inn near the Minneapolis campus will become a housing unit next year.

Jared Roddy

A new student housing option will be available by next year.

What was once the Best Western Inn, at 2600 University Ave. S.E., will become a 38-unit condominium structure geared toward students and faculty members at the University.

Owner Apurva Patel said that because of competition in the area and decreased hospital traffic, he has decided to convert the 24-year-old building into one- and two-bedroom condos.

“We were generating revenue,” Patel said. “But the best use for the property is to do this, it’s a business decision.”

The condos will be called University Lofts, or “something to do with lofts,” and will cost from $159,000 to $259,000, Patel said.

Patel said he hopes students, and perhaps their parents, will buy some of the properties because of their proximity to campus, as well as the comparable cost.

“The price is such that you can have two people in one of the units and it would be cheaper than rent would be,” Patel said.

One of the $159,000 units might have a mortgage payment just short of $1,000 a month, he said.

The owner said he plans to spend $4.5 million to $5 million renovating the building and converting the motel into the long-term living units.

Patel bought the building in 1998 for approximately $2 million. The city estimates the property and structure are now worth $1.2 million.

Some amenities in the larger units might be rooftop patios and loft-style second floors.

The condos will also serve faculty and graduate students.

Improvements at the Best Western Inn will begin soon, Patel said, and he hopes to have models available for prebuying by January or February.

Several students questioned the viability of owning their own condos, though.

Graduate student Sonja Runck said she didn’t think students would be interested in home ownership.

“I think students want freedom to move around and don’t want the responsibility,” Runck said. “When your lease ends, you just leave. You don’t have to deal with selling it.”

But, she said, she also sees the benefits of owning property.

“It’s an investment, so that’s a huge advantage if you can invest this early,” she said.

Emily Foxen, a history and art history senior, said she didn’t think many students could afford condominiums.

“The people I know barely have enough for car payments and insurance,” Foxen said. “But I know a couple people whose parents might pay for it.”

Patel said he thought that would happen too.

“The vast majority of the units will have square footages enabled for parents of students to buy them for about the price of rent around here,” Patel said.

Stadium Village Commercial Association President Jim Rosvold said he thought student condominiums are a risk but an interesting idea.

“You don’t see many student-owned condos,” Rosvold said. “They’re certainly taking a chance, but if students don’t buy them, people who work downtown probably will.

“Good luck to ’em.”

Owners said they expect to open the units next summer.