University Pointe open for business

Nearly 850 students now occupy newest building on campus

Kayla Nguyen / Vanguard Staff

Move-in day: By Monday, around 850 of University Pointe’s 978 beds were filled.

It was a hectic yet festive scene Friday at University Pointe, Portland State’s newest on-campus housing option.

Hundreds of students and their families jockeyed for parking and a limited supply of large blue moving carts on official move-in day.

Although the first students began moving in early September, on Friday the long elevator lines and uniformed staff scurrying around gave the lobby a distinct airport-like feel.

But cases of soda, bulk toiletries, instant ramen and video game systems gave away that this was move-in day at a large college dorm—though one unlike any other in the university’s history.

As of fall 2011, nearly 30,000 students were enrolled in the university, with only 2,047 on-campus beds available and 93 percent of them occupied. With the renovation of the 173-bed Blumel Hall scheduled to last the entire academic year, the opening of University Pointe has been cast as a step forward in shedding PSU’s identity as mainly a “commuter” campus.

Controversy flared over the details of PSU’s relationship with American Campus Communities, an Austin, Texas-based company that has developed more than 60 on-campus student housing projects, including University Pointe.

Under the terms of the agreement, PSU leased the land the building now stands on to ACC for 85 years. ACC built and will manage the apartments. Although PSU collects rent on the land from ACC, ACC collects all of the rent from residents for the first 30 years, after which PSU is paid a percentage. PSU also pays rent to ACC for classroom and conference space within the building.

Disagreements over this type of public-private venture are unlikely to go away anytime soon, but looking at this shiny new corner of south campus, the building seems even less likely to.

By the first day of classes on Monday, around 850 of the 16-story building’s 978 beds should be filled, said Larry Greenberg, regional vice president of ACC.

“This project is amazing,” said Greenberg. “It’s completely different than a lot of the other projects I’ve dealt with because of the university affiliation and relationship.”

Sitting behind a circular table blanketed with a rainbow variety of ID cards, PSU child and family studies sophomore Ira Lapitan chuckled as she recounted some of the flustered families she saw during the big move in. She said people kept trying to figure out what the big set of stairs just inside the main entrance on Southwest Fifth Avenue leads to. “It’s funny watching people carry big, heavy things up to the classrooms,” said Lapitan, who is also employed as a community assistant at University Pointe, noting that the apartments are normally accessed via the elevators.

Taking a break from moving in, linguistics and computer science senior Ceara Chewning said she was impressed by the rooms at University Pointe. “It’s nicer than Blumel,” said Chewning of her previous residence. “And I have a great view: I can see Mt. Hood.”

Another notable feature of University Pointe is that non-students are sharing rooms with students. Business graduate student Jie Yan said his roommate, whom he did not know before and is not a student at PSU, chose University Pointe based on its price and location. “He couldn’t find anything downtown for less than $800,” Yan said.

As of Saturday, the building’s official website was advertising a $499 “construction special” for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom shared apartment. A grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 18.


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