Camila Fernandez/Assistant News Director
This fall semester, the private off-campus apartment and condo building 109 Tower has finally opened its doors—but only to the FIU community.
Tailor-made to fit the needs and likings of University students, the high-rise urban tower is owned and managed by the Education Realty Trust Inc., not the University.
Standing just across the street from the Modesto Maidique Campus entrance on 109 Ave. and Southwest 8 St., residents of the tower pay to enjoy modern-day luxuries such as a fitness facility, a movie theater, a pool, 24-hour study rooms, free Wi-Fi and cable.
“I think the beauty about the 109 Tower is how we’re really adding to the student housing here at FIU,” said Davica Williams, 109 Tower’s leasing and marketing manager.
The complex was designed, according to Williams, to add value to student education while still providing a home element.
The current 12-month lease term runs from August 21 to July 31, 2015, with rental rates ranging from $785 for a four bedroom and four bathroom apartment to $890 for a two bedroom and two bathroom apartment.
With a monthly $30 cap per person, all rates include water, sewer, trash, utilities, digital cable, and high-speed internet.
The apartments are also fully furnished including a 42-inch flat-screen TV, full-sized Tempur-Pedic mattresses, washer and dryer and a stainless steel kitchen. Pets are not allowed.
Students have the option to join the roommate matching service that bring together residents according to lifestyle preferences.
Each person must pay their own lease so that if one person decides to leave, the others can continue to live in the same bedroom apartment.
The tower will have community assistants that act like University resident assistants.
Dasia Spriggs, a sophomore biology major, said she is happy with her decision to live in the complex, since she had a positive experience living in another EdR building out-of-state.
“I have experience with [EdR] elsewhere at the University of Cincinnati in University Park Apartments,” she said. “The staff is just superb.”
However, living at the tower comes out a bit pricier than living in one of the on-campus residences.
Parkview Hall’s rate, for example, is $3,900 per semester for a fully furnished four bedroom apartment with two shared bathrooms.
For some students, the decision to move in across the street was mostly due to the lack of residential space on-campus.
“There was no on-campus housing,” said Spriggs, which limited her options.
According to the University’s 2010-2020 Campus Master Plan’s draft, a major issue is overcrowding at the Modesto Maidique Campus— which is why the University is interested in off-campus private partnerships to provide housing for incoming students.
In a previous interview with student media, Jim Wassenaar, director of Facilities Planning and Operations, said that off-campus housing built by private developers will continue to increase.
“We’ve been supportive of private partnerships because we believe the Sweetwater community should embrace the University as a full partner,” Wassenaar said.
Another issue for the tower’s residents is parking limitations.
There are only 20-25 parking spots available in the building due to the grounds that were available for construction.
This leaves students parking at PG-5 and crossing the street back and forth, at least until the pedestrian bridge is built.
“I assure you that the planned signature FIU pedestrian bridge across SW 8th St. connecting FIU with the City of Sweetwater is on track,” said Vice President of Governmental Relations Steve Sauls.
In the meantime, the CATS shuttle stops in front of the tower 33 times a day, and the Sweetwater trolley is also available for residents.
Of the 542 rooms in 109 Tower, Williams said that they are 99 percent full.
Owning 67 collegiate buildings across the country, according to the Daily Business Review, EdR paid $43.5 million for the site.
Other Florida schools that have nearby EdR residencies include the University of South Florida, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
FIU now joins the list, and is the only institution in South Florida that currently offers off-campus living for their students and faculty, Williams said.