Lows in the highest places

Private off-campus student apartments in downtown Lincoln advertise a premium housing experience to a growing UNL undergraduate population. But for some residents, the reality of living in these buildings is less glamorous.

You’ve seen them cropping up downtown. Every day, their shuttles glide through campus and students sport their logos on t-shirts and water bottles. Your friends probably live in them. Maybe you do, too.

Student-oriented apartment complexes have altered the landscape around the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus in recent years, with the aim of providing close, convenient and comfortable housing for UNL’s ever-growing student body.

With the university’s goal to increase enrollment to 30,000 students by 2020, almost 4,000 more students will be searching for places to live in the upcoming years. According to University Housing, the only additional on-campus housing in the works is a facility on East Campus, which is expected to add 370 beds by 2017. With only about one-third of students choosing to live on campus each year, the remainder are left to find housing elsewhere.

As the amount of students at UNL increases, apartment complexes continue to pop up to accommodate them. In 2012, 650 beds downtown were registered with the City of Lincoln to be available to renters. Just four years later, this number has risen exponentially: Now, 3,200 beds are available.

Five major apartment complexes - the 50/50, Prime Place Apartments, 8 | N Lofts, Latitude Apartments and Aspen Heights - account for the bulk of these beds. Built close to UNL’s city campus, these complexes tend to rent by bedroom, rather than unit, and offer a student-friendly environment complete with modern amenities and facilities, such as pools and gyms.

But student experiences with these complexes can differ greatly from what they were promised. Complaints of unfinished apartments, living spaces with insects and careless management have pervaded campus conversation and social media feeds alike.

The Daily Nebraskan investigated these complaints, analyzing these student-oriented housing complexes and their effect on the student body. This issue contains both the pride and pitfalls of the emerging housing market, from the economic impact of these complexes to renters’ personal stories.

Whether you’re still snug in your dorm or have never lived near campus, the new housing complexes have woven themselves UNL’s culture. Take a look at what this means for you.


Editor-in-chief: Lani Hanson

Managing Editor: Lauren Brown-Hulme

Web Design: Matt Hanson

Editors: Chris Bowling, Bailey Schulz, Marcella Mercer, Adam Warner, Stephanie Cavazos

Reporters: Aidan Connolly, Noah Johnson, Elsie Stormberg, Amzie Dunekacke, Jacob Elliott, Collin Spilinek, Sarah Wontorcik, Brittany Hamor, Elizabeth Rembert

Photographers: Adam Warner, Elsie Stormberg, Julian Tirtadjaja

Video: Aidan Connolly