Residence on the Rail
Every student needs a place to live — and come spring, it’s on everyone’s mind. Incoming freshman shop around with anxious parents for the perfectly cool apartment complex, while commuter students finally decide to make the move out of Mom and Dad’s. Others tire of the on-campus experience after a year or two of shared living with roommates, suitemates, hallmates and floormates. Eventually, privacy and freedom beckon in the form of (often cheaper) off-campus apartments.
For most students, living near the Metro Light Rail has serious appeal. Driving to and parking on campus gets expensive, and many students commute between multiple campuses. Light rail-adjacent apartments market themselves as such, drawing more and more residents with each dollar rise on the gas pump.
But not every place suits every student. Some are for the quiet and studious, while others are designed for the social, college experience. Here’s a look at the culture of some popular apartments on the rail near the ASU Tempe and Downtown campuses.
Alta Phoenix Lofts
Phone number: 602-374-7133
Light rail stop: Van Buren Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: fitness center, cyber cafe, clubhouse with billiard and poker tables, pool, art gallery, local business on property, acupuncturist, tattoo parlor, personal trainer
Price range: $960 – $3,500
Sitting catty-corner from the College of Nursing and Health Innovation building, Alta Phoenix Lofts boasts an urban style. Residents find themselves walking through halls with exposed copper pipes and duct work. Property manager Chiara Elie says the light rail is another way to give residents an urban experience.
“We go for the whole downtown vibe, participating in First Fridays and reminding residents the light rail is nearby,” she says, sitting in her pool-facing office.
Elie says not many students live at the Lofts because they are higher-priced than other apartment complexes in the area. She says she tries to hold at least two or three events per month so residents get what they pay for. She says the active student would appreciate living at the Lofts.
Modern decor inside the Alta Phoenix Lofts. Photo by Vivian Padilla.
“Our biggest appeal to students is we’re very close to the Downtown campus,” she says. “But we also have so much to offer in terms of amenities and activities.”
Nursing senior Barbie Frazier says she chose to live at Alta Phoenix Lofts after looking at The Met and Roosevelt Square. She says Alta won her over because she thought it was the best deal for what she paid for.
“The lofts were bigger than the other places I looked at and it has this really big balcony with a pretty view, which The Met and Roosevelt Square didn’t have,” Frazier says. “The balcony just makes it so much more open and I like having my own space outside.”
Frazier says one of the frustrating things about living at the Lofts is wasted space in the apartment, which makes cleaning difficult. She says she had to buy a stepstool to reach a lot of her cabinets and storage space.
Frazier says she thinks ASU students who are studious, but also social, would enjoy living at the Lofts.
“People here are pretty nice so I don’t think anyone would call the cops on you for having a party,” she says. “As a nursing student though, I have to be studious and I never hear anyone so it’s easy to study.”
Phone number: 602-258-6387
Light rail stop: Van Buren Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: pool, hot tub, fitness center, 800+ DVDs for free rental, Wi-Fi throughout the property
Pet friendly: Cats and caged animals only
Price range: $779 – $1,264
Rising only three stories high, The Met apartment complex is one people might miss, especially as it’s surrounded by buildings with 10-plus stories. The city has grown around it; journalism sophomore Liam Hausmann says he enjoys living there because it’s so close to the Downtown campus where he takes classes.
“I don’t live as close to the light rail as some other places, but it’s worth it to me to be able to walk back and forth to campus four times a day without it being a hassle,” Hausmann says.
The Met is often overlooked because of its smaller size. Photo by Diana Martinez.
Hausmann rents a two-bedroom two-bath with his roommate and says he gets the most use out of the Jacuzzi. However, he says he has a rocky relationship with management, though it doesn’t affect his enjoyment of his living experience.
“I got a message from [management] complaining to me about people parking in The Met guest parking spots and then leaving,” he says. “They blamed me and my roommate and my roommate had to go the office and basically say it’s not our job to watch the parking lot, regardless if the people doing it are people we know or not.”
Hausmann says while the facilities are very nice, management tends to treat students as if they aren’t full and responsible adults.
“If you take management not appreciating students out of the picture, the location, the amenities and stuff is all awesome,” he says. “It’s not really a hustle and bustle place, it’s really mellow and I think it’s good for students who work on campus.”
Assistant manager of The Met Kathy Kimminau says they don’t treat students any different than other residents but admits they do give them more noise complaints notifications if other residents are voicing complaints.
“The studious student would prefer to live here because we are strict about noise complaints,” she says. “We still want people to have fun and have people over and party, just not late at night. We’ve never evicted someone for too many noise complaints but we would if we had too.”
Kimminau says she thinks students would want to live at The Met because of the proximity to campus, as well as the availability of Wi-Fi.
“We’re also located right next to a lot of places to eat and entertainment, like the movie theater,” she says.
Roosevelt Square offers students and residents refined living within walking distance to the downtown campus and light rail station. Photo by Jessica Heigh.
Phone number: 602-258-7678
Light rail stop: Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: 24-hour gym, pool, on the bus line, dog-walking area, 24-hour sky terrace, local businesses on property, four restaurants, dry cleaner
Pet friendly: Yes, except for larger, aggressive breeds of dog
Price range: $563 – $1,500
Three separate buildings make up Roosevelt Square, its own small community where assistant manager Wes Carmichael says many residents have referred each other.
“We have a mixture of young professionals and students,” he says. “A lot of students move here after their first year or two on campus because it’s cheaper to live here than on campus.”
One of the three apartment complexes that make up Roosevelt Square. Photo by Jessica Heigh.
He says some reasons students might enjoy living at Roosevelt Square is the proximity to First Fridays, a monthly art walk, as well as plenty of local shops and eateries to walk to. He says they are also extremely pet friendly.
“We have almost as many pets as residents I think,” he says.
Sustainability and journalism senior Lexie Runge lives at Roosevelt Square with her dog Maverick and says she loves living so close to the light rail.
“I almost never drive anymore because I can walk to my journalism classes on the Downtown campus and take the light rail to my other ones on the Tempe campus,” she says.
Runge says she feels the complex is for students who are respectful but like the urban life.
“Most residents here really do respect each other,” she says. “It’s a lot of young people and young couples and everyone has this understanding that this isn’t for cranky older people and there’s no underclassmen who want to party constantly. I think it’s a place for people who have their priorities straight.”
Carmichael says if students are looking to rent in the fall, they should begin the process about 75 days in advance. He says the Phoenix Mercury are already inquiring about renting apartments there again. Last year the team leased 14 units, he says.
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See the original article for residences along the rail in Tempe.