New housing on University Ave. offers suite-style living

Minneapolis will need 4,088 new affordable housing units between 2011 and 2020.

Joy Petersen

When University sophomore Morgan Tomsche began her college experience, she was anxious about meeting her roommate.

“I was really nervous and apprehensive to whether or not we would get along or not, and have anything in common,” Tomsche said.

When it came down to it, Tomsche said meeting her roommate confirmed her fears.

“We just had completely different lifestyles,” she said.

Tomsche’s experience has been shared by other residence hall dwellers. Despite that, a new housing development on University Avenue, Jefferson at Berry, follows the same type of living, but in an apartment community.

According to the Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis will need 4,088 new affordable housing units between 2011 and 2020.

Because many University students fit into these statistics and will need more housing in the coming years, JPI, a Texas-based developer, has begun construction of Jefferson at Berry on land behind the KSTP building at University and Berry avenues.

The student community complex is set to open in August 2008.

Because the complex is student community housing, it works much like a residence hall, where students might not know their suitemates, Angelia Jarvis, the complex’s director of community relations, said.

“In a four-bedroom, four people come in, each one of those people, whether they know each other or not, can live together,” Jarvis said.

She said it also offers amenities different from other student housing.

“We are a unique breed of student housing, and we offer a lot of the same amenities other apartment complexes offer, student housing anyways,” Jarvis said. “But we are upgraded. We are the next step up for comparable rental prices.”

Jarvis said the largest suites, which contain four bedrooms and four bathrooms, have 42-inch plasma-screen televisions and leather couches.

The complex contains 552 bedrooms in 150 units, which will be priced between $615 and $750 per bedroom.

Jeff Crump, associate professor of housing studies in the University’s college of design, said affordable housing is usually calculated as 30 percent of the total average household income in a given region.

Student incomes are not concrete, Crump said, so the studies depend on a community’s average income.

“The trick is that it depends on the median you use,” he said.

Tom Atchison, an American studies and electromagnetic engineering junior, said he doesn’t think the apartment housing prices around the University are high when looking at the price of housing as a whole.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily that they’re not affordable,” he said. “I think it’s the housing market in general has really high costs.”

He said he has some concerns about living with people he doesn’t know, but he will sign a lease with Jefferson at Berry soon.

“It’s similar to other apartment complexes as far as price,” Atchison said, “but it offers a lot more in terms of amenities.”

First-year elementary education major Brittany O’Connor said she established a lot of friendships during her year in a residence hall, and said she thinks living in a place like Jefferson at Berry would be more attractive to a first-year student.

“That would be really appealing compared to the dorms, just because it’s more space, and you have your own room and you have a kitchen right in there,” she said, “but I’d rather live with the people that I already know.”