Cut from the same cloth

Despite each claim of offering a unique living environment, most downtown apartment complexes provide similar experiences when it comes to location, amenities and—often—disenchantment.

Whether it’s 8 | N or Latitude, Prime Place or the 50/50, Aspen Heights or other student-marketed apartment complexes, there are plenty of patterns in their selling points.

Websites show in-unit washers and dryers, 24-hour fitness centers and study lounges. Lanterns string across courtyards and windows open onto Lincoln’s skyline. Dark cabinets and island countertops offer areas to cook meals, open floor plans provide a space to spend time with friends and close proximity to campus makes for a short walk to class for residents.

However, with each complex boasting of indistinguishable amenities, some students find it hard to differentiate what makes one stand out from the other.

Cole Hoofnagle, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore, chose Aspen Heights for its proximity to campus and lack of negative reputation.

“I had heard horror stories about Prime Place, I’d heard horror stories about Latitude,” Hoofnagle, a business administration major, said. “And the 50/50 is just gross; I’ve seen vomit in the elevator on three separate occasions.”

With the location and brand-new aesthetics in mind, Hoofnagle signed his contract.

Courtney Strayer, a sophomore advertising and public relations major, also chose to live at Aspen Heights. What set it apart for her was her history as a marketing assistant and familiarity with the staff.

"I've seen vomit in the elevator on three separate occasions.”

- Cole Hoofnagle

“I knew the people, I liked the location and I knew how the lease worked,” Strayer said.

She was also drawn to the location Aspen Heights offered.

“Looking out my window, I can see the Newman Center. I can see Memorial Stadium and Oldfather, and the journalism school is two blocks down,” Strayer said. “This location is amazing.”

Another apartment complex that rivals Aspen Heights in that area is the 50/50, which is located fewer than 150 feet away.

The 50/50 is the only complex to offer private housing on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, a juxtaposition that sets it apart, property manager Jerry Shoecraft said.

“Something I feel we will always have a niche on is location,” Shoecraft said.

A mile west, the Prime Place logo features a walking figure which symbolizes the close campus location and convenience to students, property manager Adam Hunt said.

Less than a mile south is Latitude, which has a website that boasts a location that “keeps you at the center of student life while giving you the freedom to discover Lincoln.”

Another similarity between these complexes is the disenchantment of some complex residents.

Hoofnagle chose Aspen because he expected its inaugural year to provide a clean slate for good living conditions and good relationships.

But when he paid his Aug. 1 rent for his Aug. 13 move-in, Hoofnagle said he found cosmetic and structural faults. Scrape marks on the dark brown trim, thin windows that let in the noise of traffic and construction made him question his monthly payment of $1,000.

“I work in construction so I notice that stuff,” Hoofnagle said. “And it’s garbage. They did it fast and they did it cheap.”

Multiple attempts by The Daily Nebraskan to reach an Aspen Heights representative via email, phone call and in person regarding these allegations were left unreturned as of press time.

After reaching out to the complex’s customer service, Hoofnagle’s said his hopes of good relationships with the apartment complex were also dashed.

“They have horrible customer service,” he said. “If you say anything negative in an email they will not answer you.”

Hoofnagle said after his experiences at Aspen Heights, he would not return to this or any other off-campus student apartment complex.

“I’ve heard from friends who have lived in the other complexes, and it’s all the same thing,” he said. “I’d rather live in a house with a real person and a relationship any day than just a corporation that just wants my money and doesn’t care about my feelings for the property.”