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Posted on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Rents of the Big Ten: Ann Arbor luxury student housing market among most expensive in Midwest

By Kellie Woodhouse


The new Landmark luxury apartments high-rise

Melanie Maxwell |

Sweeping views of the city, ultra-modern gathering spaces, in-house theaters, flat screens your parents would envy and state-of-that art gyms just steps away.

Rental rates ranging from $800 to $1,745 per bed a month.

Luxurious indeed.

Three new luxury apartment complexes that cater to students are opening in Ann Arbor this year, accompanying the sleek 411 Lofts and Zaragon Place that changed the Ann Arbor landscape, and student housing market, in 2010.

There's no shortage of luxury options for students in Ann Arbor.

The Ann Arbor luxury student housing market is among the most expensive in the Big Ten, according to an informal survey by A survey of luxury housing rates in other cities with Big Ten schools turned up rates as high as $1,350 per bed.

At the newly built Landmark Apartments on South University studios can cost as much as $1,745 whereas a bedroom in a six-bedroom apartment costs $975. Landmark features an outdoor entertainment center, two hot tubs, a sauna, steam room, yoga studio, gym, free tanning and a study room.


Melanie Maxwell |

The same company that owns Landmark also owns luxury complexes near Purdue University and the University of Illinois' main campus. According to Landmark property manager Rick Hill, apartments at those complexes have similar amenities but are less expensive than apartments in Ann Arbor.

Landmark is a few steps up from your average dormitory.

New apartment complexes City Place and Zaragon West, along with Landmark, will bring nearly 1,000 luxury beds to the Ann Arbor market this fall.

"You look at some of those prices and you wonder how they find people to afford it — but they do," said Amy Khan, president of local property management company CMB.

"There is a point by which you wonder how much more does the market need, but right now it seems to be doing well," added Peter Logan, director of communications for university housing at the University of Michigan. Logan said the influx of luxury housing hasn't affected demand for on-campus housing units. U-M is expecting roughly 9,700 students to live on campus this year.

According to local commercial real estate agent Peter Allen, the local market can take in even more luxury beds. Allen's company has a listing for the air rights above Pizza House, which was built to hold a 15-story high-rise.

Allen is in talks with interested developers, and he says there's been a common theme: Ann Arbor is expensive.

"I hear this from some people who are here looking at doing some student housing. They want to do housing in the Big Ten and they’ve told me that Ann Arbor rents are the highest," he said.


A view from the inside of Zaragon West

Jeff Smith |

Other markets in the Big Ten

Rates for luxury apartments in the 24-story Park Evanston, just blocks from Northwestern University, can reach $1,300 per bed in a three-bedroom apartment and $1,350 for a studio. That apartment includes a dry-cleaning service, gym and heated outdoor pool with a sweeping view of Chicago.

"A lot of students come here for housing," says property manager Beth Dote.

Another high-rise at the edge of Evanston, 415 Lofts, has two bedroom apartments available for $1,050 a bed. Sheila Swanson, property manager of 415 lofts, says that including her property and Park Evanston, there are three high-rise luxury apartment complexes in Evanston and none of them cater solely to students.

"We cater to whoever can afford to live here," she said.

In Columbus, the home of Ohio State University, there are at least five luxury apartment complexes, although are high-rises and many are much smaller than the new Ann Arbor offerings.

Built in 2010, rent at East Village, near OSU, ranges from $550 to $650 per bed in apartments with four bedrooms. Nearby East Village are a community of townhouses built for student living, each with a three-car garage, and a loft building with a gym and one bedroom apartments. Each has rents reaching $1,000 a month. All three were built within the last seven years.

The majority of tenants in each community are undergraduates at OSU, says Legacy Management Services property manager Ryan Chapman, who estimates that about 340 students live in the three communities.

"There's a small handful of apartment [complexes near OSU] that care about luxury," said Chapman. "For the price and the surroundings, it doesn't really take much to be a gem in the area."

Here's a look at a sampling of listings for high-end apartments near Big Ten schools:

  • Penn State University, State College, Pa.: Centre Court and Campus Towers apartments are fully furnished, newly constructed four- and three-bedroom units with electronic locks and use of a gym. Rent is advertised as between $800 and $825 per bed.
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.: Luxury apartments at Chauncey Square range from $660 to $1,175 per bed, depending on the unit size. The apartment includes a fitness center, business center and study lounge, theater, game room and free tanning.
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.: With units titled 'Manhattan' and 'Soho,' rent at Smalltown Plaza, built in 2004, can be as high as $640 per bed. The eight-floor complex, including two floors of retail space, is near IU's campus and features a study lounge and free gym membership.
  • University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.: The 24-floor high-rise on Green Street is the tallest building near UI. Built in 2008, the building mostly houses undergraduate and graduate students. It has an indoor gym and outdoor pool and rent is advertised as $900 for a four bedroom.
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.: Rent at luxury apartment complexes Sidney Hall, The Edge and 412 Lofts, near campus, can be as high as $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and $600 a bed in a three-bedroom apartment. Those complexes include a mix of community spaces with fireplaces, on-site garage parking, gym facilities and are furnished.
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.: There are more than a dozen apartment complexes near the campus area, many of them high-end. Rent at one of the Equinox's 115 furnished units can range from $500 to $875 per bed in a multiple-bed unit, according to the property manager of the 12-floor high-rise. The nearby Humbucker high-rise opened this year and a two-bedroom goes for about $1,500.
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.: Developers are building an eight-floor complex, the Residence, which is set to open in fall 2013. It will be the newest, largest apartment complex near MSU and the tallest building in East Lansing. Rates for the 42 loft style apartments haven't been released.
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa: Developers are building a 14-story, $10.7 million high-rise in downtown Iowa City that will include 12 floors of apartments and condominiums.
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.: Although not newly constructed, the Chateau Terrace high-rise is a short drive from campus and includes a pool, gym and clubhouse. A two bedroom apartment is advertised as high as $900 per month.

Why so expensive?


City Place is the only new luxury apartment complex that is not high-rise.

Angela | Cesere |

A somewhat laborious city approval and permit process, expensive air rights and a relatively affluent U-M student base all contribute to Ann Arbor's costly rental market.

Developers of luxury high-rises have to charge high rents to absorb the cost of construction and still make the desired profit, Allen said.

"Ann Arbor has a reputation for being very difficult for out of town developers," Allen said, adding the cost of acquiring land and air rights brings another dimension to the table. "The only way to make your high land cost work is... to go into (high-rise construction) and that is 50 percent more expensive."

High-rise construction requires steel, whereas a building of four or five stories can be built with lumber, a less costly material.

Students at U-M also can absorb the cost of a bed in a luxury high-rise more readily than students at other schools, Allen surmised.

"The profile of students can afford these super ammenized, very convenient locations," he said.

At U-M there are roughly 27,000 undergraduates and 15,000 graduates, one of the largest student bodies in the Big Ten. According to a survey of incoming freshmen students in 2011, the majority of students at U-M come from middle-class and wealthy backgrounds.

According to student responses, 21.3 percent of incoming freshman households make more than $250,000, 9.4 percent of parents make between $200,000 and $249,999 and 31.6 percent of parents earn between $100,000 and $199,999.

Added Logan of Ann Arbor's luxury complexes: "They have been marketing to a more, I suppose, affluent student and they don't seem to be having problems attracting leases."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

You don't need to pay even near $1000/mo to live in AA as a student. My senior year from 2007-08 I paid $245/mo by living with 3 roommates in a 2 bedroom apt. Just takes some creativity


Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Out of staters from NYC or San Francisco probably consider Ann Arbor rents quite reasonable. My step daughter was raving about how cheap parking is in Ann Arbor when she lived and worked in the NYC area.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

flat-screen TV's? a sauna? "sweeping views" of the city outside one's window? I'm rolling my eyes at this point. give me a place that has free heat/water any day over anything else.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

All I have to say is that I'm glad I didn't have to deal with such expensive housing when I was a U of M student '93-'96! My first year was at the Baits I that is being closed down - I liked living there. I cannot phantom having to live with upwards of 5 other people, just to pay my share of $1200!


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

most expensive in Midwest ? what a shame to build this in student area ...who can afford the pricing and how many elderly people in Ann Arbor are living on streets...


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

The 1% -Own 40% of the Nation's Wealth up from 33% in 2007. -Take Home about 1/4 of the National Income up from 1/10 in 1976. Largest % since 1928. -Own Half of the Country's Stocks, Bonds and Mutual Funds. -Own Only 5% of the Nation's Personal Debt (2007). -make up about 20% of the Michigan student body. 20%? Well, I guess that only 1,000 (super ugly) highrise units can't possibly accomodate the Big Ten crusty demand. Particularly since the kids are only here for their housing (and great beer). Forget the people who actually live here. Ring the fire bell. Call up the mayor. It's shovel time again!


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

This is my son's IN_STATE tuition bill for fall 2012 $ 8,981.19.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Ouch. putting it mildly...


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

That's what it comes to for most, like you and your son. Hopefully, the price of gas doesn't get out of hand and then there's parking costs, unless he takes a bus.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

He has to live with me to not paying the rent and food.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

"Ann Arbor has a reputation for being very difficult for out of town developers," Allen said, adding the cost of acquiring land and air rights brings another dimension to the table. "The only way to make your high land cost work is... to go into (high-rise construction) and that is 50 percent more expensive." Which, critics have been saying for decades and the end result is zero new affordable housing for the middle class. Mission accomplished Mr. Mayor and City Council.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

guess tuition rates aren't too high after all...UM could be bringing in another $6K a semester easy.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

Yet despite it all, they are still cheaper than the dorms. Out of state tuition at U of M is upwards of $40,000 a year yet people still pay it because rightly or wrongly they believe that the degree will improve their lives enough for it to be worth it. Sure you could bring that 40K + 12K down to 40K + 3K by sharing a bedroom in Ypsi, but you'd be spending two hours a day on the bus and kept awake by your snoring roommate. It works for some people but the economics of lowering your GPA for a slightly smaller student loan payment is not sound.


Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Right Lee, even if it were more, the meal plan is a huge benefit. You don't have to shop for food, prepare it, clean up after and so on. All that time saved can be committed to study.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Actually not true. For a dorm room double with private bath the rate for fall and winter is $10,928. That includes a meal plan. Singles are a bit more. Apartments such as these can run up to around $13,500 for fall and winter and that does not include meals.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

No wonder the upper crust needs reduced income taxes.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

a2cents, I do hope you're being sarcastic.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

The University needs to build at least one more dorm with residential learning communities to help offset the class society that the same type of folks who brought you luxury boxes and priority points is striving to create on campus. Now when freshmen meet, they need to figure out who will be their roommates next year in the first few weeks of school, and more than ever, the process involves economic credentialing. No doubt an app will be developed for it, in which people will divulge what price point they are willing to pay in rent before conversations go too far and one befriends someone of the wrong class. Again, the University needs to offer on campus housing to any student who wants it, and in residential LEARNING communities, not economically segregated ghettos which is where the private market will take undergraduate housing. Permanently closing a 600 room dorm (baits) without first building a replacement is shear folly which will accelerate the rush to a segregated campus which is in opposition to the University's mission as one of the most distinguished PUBLIC Universities in the world.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

THe UM appears to be in bed with the City government, A2 planning, and the construction industry. Could be the remake of the Bob, Ted, Carol, and Alice movie. Its the swinging U folk show. What school would intentionally toss 1,000 kids out of the dorms without provsioning alternate accomodation just when there is a mushroom rezoning and highrise blight? The artificial "demand" for high-rent rooms is the excuse portrayed in these last few A2com articles for even more head-air development. Well, landowners are always entitled to bite the community value hand that feeds them. As is the UofM and its (now poisoned) ivy league image. Over-build it and they will run.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

I remember with fond nostalgia my freshman through junior years at UM 1958-1961. Living in Mosher and Mary Markley Halls. Girls lived on "the hill", fellows lived separately in South, or West Quads. We had a freshman class of about 3200 students. Dorms had "House Mothers" and we had to "sign out" to leave in the eves and had curfews which could not be violated or else we were "grounded". Each floor had study halls and a phone booth and an upper classman monitor. We had "mixers" to which fellows would come and "check out" the new girls. Our first night before registration began for classes, we all had to be inside by 7 pm and the twilight streets echoed with the singing of the Men's Glee Club walking slowly by singing beautiful college songs. "Panty Raids" were unexpected and hilarious events with guys shouting outside and girls throwing down underwear (some especially purchased giant sized bras for trophies to whoever caught them). Few had cars- everyone walked or rode bikes. Winter in the arb was a time for sliding down hills on cafeteria trays. It was all so wonderful- so long ago. I was an out-of-state student - I think our tuition was $500/semester and room and board in the dorms was $90/month. Classes were not watered down- they were tough. I was an Astronomy major (but my favorite classes were Great Books 1 & 2). Wonderful teachers, never to be forgotten friends, precious memories.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

How times have changed...


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

The early and mid 1970s had progressed where "house mothers" were still in a few of the all women dorms. Women were living in West and South Quads. College was still affordable for most middle class families to send their kids. A few more of us had cars but were mainly juniors and seniors. I had classes on both Central and North Campus. Parking was free at North Campus back then. Taking the universitiy buses was always a good option regardless.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

But Daddy, I want a gold goose, get me one now

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

ok, Veruca....


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.



Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Nothing like a business friendly city government: 1) "A somewhat laborious city approval and permit process, expensive air rights and a relatively affluent U-M student base all contribute to Ann Arbor's costly rental market." 2) "Ann Arbor has a reputation for being very difficult for out of town developers," Allen said, adding the cost of acquiring land and air rights brings another dimension to the table. "The only way to make your high land cost work is... to go into (high-rise construction) and that is 50 percent more expensive."


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

These are quotes from real estate developers and agents --- what do you expect them to say?


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

If A2 were not a "business-friendly city government" then 1] greedy developers would not even attempt to enter the build approval process. 2] all of those condos, apartments, malls, parking structures, and blinking ugly blocks would be gone. At what point on the way to becoming Mexico City should Ann Arbor development stop?


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

This is just mirroring what is going on elsewhere. Now right at college you can experience the ever widening wealth gap. At UifM you have parents putting their own homes at risk to get their kid through college, with the kid (who has no car) living out of the basement, or sharing a bedroom in an overcrowded hole in the wall, and other students living in luxury apartments with garages and hot tubs.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

brought to you by leadership which has increased enrollment without providing adequate numbers of on campus beds...


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

Idon't understand how students can afford rents in excess of $1,000.00 per month


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Over 62% of the students parents make over $200,000. That's enough to have extra to spend on these luxury digs for their children. The question is will these kids ever be able to afford these kind of accommodations on their own? I just don't really know if getting things like this for their children helps or hurts. But, I do know that I admire the wealthy parent who has all the ability to spoil their child, but refrains. They have a much harder job than I have!!

Chip Reed

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Maybe they have paper routes... Oh, now I remember, there aren't papers anymore.

Nick Danger

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Rich kids take over the world and insure a stong ruling class. Four thousand dollars a year for a 3 bedroom student apartment is absurd. Would't it be nice if the university would look at economic diversity for incoming students

Robert Granville

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

They do. It's rather difficult to find the same proportion of students from working and lower middle class families when the K-12 education they are most likely to receive will not prepare them for Michigan. It sucks but it's reality. I've been cultured shocked since the day I started undergrad. There's hardly anyone who grew up like me on the three campuses where I've attended classes.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

Well, the "ammenized" technically came from a quoted source. However, there's also, " housing rates for in other cities..." and "U-M is roughly expecting 9,700..." I know reporters aren't necessarily trained in the fields they report about, but it is kind of sad that this comes from the one covering higher education. About on par for , though. I sure do hope they DON'T have a proofreading process.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

But like the Raven, "ammenized" still is sitting, still is sitting . . .


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

"sometimes" -- another typo

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

We do have a proofreading process, but sometimes things slip through, unfortunately. Thanks for catching the errors. They've both been fixed. Thanks also for reading.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

Glad I'm not a student in today's day and age. Nice digs with the new high rises but not for the average middle class types.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 10:58 a.m.

"ammenized"? Really? "The profiles of students can afford". Do the profiles pay the rent? Or the students (parents)?


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

I suspect Mr. Allen, or Ms. Woodhouse, was reaching for "amenitize" - a horrendous construction, but apparently now widely used in the real estate markets.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

profiles are based in numbers and numbers can be twisted and turned to prove whatever point you're trying to prove.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 10:29 a.m.

Another record and 'top ten' finish for AA and the UM. Zingerman's for lunch anyone?


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

this isn't a sign progress, Ann Arbor cant afford this.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

sure if the developers are paying the bill