Opinion | Iowa City does not need more luxury apartments

Instead of approving the construction of additional luxury spaces, Iowa City should focus on creating affordable housing students can actually live in.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Megan

An apartment building is seen in Iowa City on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

The fall season marks the time of year college students begin looking at apartments for the next year. Questions like “who am I living with” and “what landlords seem the nicest” fill students’ brains as they spend hours researching websites like apartments.com

However, every student seems to have the same priorities when searching. What are the biggest concerns? Something affordable and close to campus.

On the contrary, Iowa City seems to be focusing more on providing luxury apartments that most students cannot afford.

For example, the Iowa City City Council gave approval for Iowa City’s Riverfront Crossing Complex to install a height extension, making the building eight instead of four stories tall. In addition, the Edge was built this past summer across from the Voxman Music Building, providing luxury condos available for rent.

Instead of investing in luxury apartments with amenities like a fitness room and arcade, Iowa City needs to focus on creating more affordable complexes for UI students.

Financial experts recommend college students spend no more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.

Studies show that the median salary for college students who have a job is $13,880 a year or about $1,157 a month. This means then the average college student can only afford around $347 to spend on rent each month.

However, buildings like Rise at Riverfront Crossing Rent can cost between $899 to $1,259 per person for a two bedroom and bathroom unit. In addition, a rental condo at the Edge starts at $2,850 per month for a two bedroom and bathroom unit.

Buildings like these can cost students paying for $10,000 a year for rent-something which most cannot afford. This is also without factoring in utilities like water, electricity, and WiFi, which adds an additional cost.

Another option for student housing that the UI could consider is creating its own apartment complexes, like other colleges.

Mayflower Residence Hall already provides the concept of this idea with having single and double rooms available with a bathroom and kitchen.  However, the one downside is that it’s located off campus with about a 20-minute walk to downtown Iowa City.

While the UI provides Cambus services, many students prefer to be closer to campus instead of being reliant on university transportation services (especially when the schedule isn’t always reliant, and the busses get full).

For example, Cornell College has a three-story building called Wilch Apartments and a building called 10th Avenue Apartments that can house a variety of different sizes of rooms that include a kitchen with appliances, common room, and wireless internet.

However, both buildings are only open to upperclassmen, and the application process uses the lottery system since they are in high demand but can only house a handful of students.

The UI should consider creating more apartment-like complexes in the heart of campus but make them similar to the size of dorm halls instead of smaller buildings like Cornell does. It would not only provide a more affordable housing option, but it would also bring in more money to the UI.

Instead of investing in luxury apartment buildings, Iowa City and the UI should consider creating more affordable options for students to live in. We’re not looking for a fancy gym or study rooms — we just want something we can afford to live in.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.