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Residents of USC's upperclassmen housing say options are limited, 'expensive'

<p>A pool with several while and blue chairs sits at 650 Lincoln, a university affiliated apartment, on March 10, 2024. The Daily Gamecock interviewed 20 students from Park Place and 650 Lincoln to get their thoughts on these building's amenities.</p>
A pool with several while and blue chairs sits at 650 Lincoln, a university affiliated apartment, on March 10, 2024. Թϱ interviewed 20 students from Park Place and 650 Lincoln to get their thoughts on these building's amenities.

Թϱ interviewed 20 residents at Park Place and 650 Lincoln, two on-campus apartments designated for upperclassmen, about the buildings' amenities. Many residents said they often don't use the amenities that can sometimes contribute to increased housing costs. 

Park Place and 650 Lincoln are university affiliated apartments, meaning they are built through a private developer but are managed by USC. Both buildings contain luxury amenities which have increasingly become more popular at universities across the country, according to the .

The apartments have resort-style pools, movie theaters and more. Unlike  Lincoln,  also includes a golf simulator and tanning booths. The residences are the only on-campus residences to have these amenities.

Nine Park Place residents told Թϱ that they had not used the movie theater, and six said they had not used the pool. Of those who said they had used the pool, two of the four said they had only used it once. 

Bella Paras, a third-year public health student and Park Place resident, said she doesn't want to meet people through her apartment amenities. Other residents say that they had difficulty accessing them at times, such as them being locked or having to ask permission.

Second-year chemical engineering student Natali Leshko said there are a lot of steps to use the amenities.

"They're saying that you have to like, request and then they have to approve like your time to even go into the golf simulator or like, I guess to even, like, access the movie theater," she said. 

Leshko said she also doesn't use the pool at Park Place and doesn't see people using it often either.

"I don't see a lot of people using it," Leshko said. "So, I don't know. I think it's just for show."

Some of the 650 Lincoln residents interviewed also said they don't use the amenities often. Of five asked about their amenity usage, four said they had used the movie theater one time or fewer. 

London Patel, a second-year business economics student, said students will likely move into these apartments no matter what amenities are available. She said she's living in 650 Lincoln for its location.

“People are still going to live here regardless of whether we have a pool or movie theater or anything,” Patel said. 

Janae Freshley, a second-year neuroscience student and Park Place resident said that one of her only choices was Park Place. 

“It’s expensive, very expensive," Freshley said. "This was our only choice (as) upperclassmen. We don't even get that choice anymore." 

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The university includes these amenities to provide students places to develop community with other students, said Josh Wise, the director of Strategic Initiatives for Housing. 

"When you look at the amenities that we put in university Housing projects, we look to add amenities that assist the student in building community and getting off to the right start,” Wise said. 

Wise said that there is a demand among students to have these amenities. 

“I think as you look at the housing market in Columbia, in general, for student housing, there's a constant need for more and more amenities," Wise said. “Students want to have more of the luxuries of life when they're here at school. And as you add more of these luxuries to apartment complexes, the costs rise.” 

650 Lincoln residents pay between $6,048 and $6,380 per semester, and Park Place residents pay between $6,020 and $6,955 .

Park Place, 650 Lincoln and East Quad serve as the three main buildings upperclassman could apply to live on campus for the 2023-24 academic year. Honors, Capstone and Living and Learning Community students have as well.

650 Lincoln, Park Place and East Quad will still house the most upperclassmen on campus for the 2024-25 academic year, said university spokesperson Collyn Taylor. 

East Quad will now be largely first-year students and upperclassmen honors students. Student-athletes and two Living and Learning Communities, Rising Scholars and the Music Community, will also be in 650 Lincoln, Taylor said

Upperclassmen looking for on campus housing don't have many options and access is limited in 650 Lincoln for general housing, said Tia Funderburk, a third-year history student and Park Place resident.

“Yeah, I didn’t really have a lot of options,” Funderburk said. "Me and my roommates were thinking about 650 Lincoln, and then last year they were opening it to Honors housing for upperclassmen, so it kind of left Park Place and East Quad, and out of the two, I wanted Park Place.”

Residents at both 650 Lincoln and Park Place said factors, such as people and a lack of other options, influenced their decision to live there. Many students said the deciding factor was the location.

Veronica Graham, a second-year philosophy student and 650 Lincoln resident, said that she will not be able to continue living at 650 Lincoln and is instead seeking an off-campus residence. 

"I am upset because they're kicking everyone out of the building right now. Next year, it's only going to be freshmen and Honors students," Graham said. "So, I can't even find a place to live next year on campus. I have to find off-campus housing, and a bunch of other people are in my position right now."

Another affiliated apartment will be opening for upperclassmen students by fall 2025. It is projected to be for upperclassmen and is under construction near the Colonial Life arena. 

Gateway 737, located on the corner of Greene and Gadsden streets, will open with 940 beds for students. It will feature a resort-style pool, a two-story fitness center and a tech lounge, according to a from the USC Development Foundation.

So far, no rental cost figures have been released for Gateway 737. It is projected to start leasing in fall of 2024.


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