Ivylee Rosario and Jacob VanHeest – News Reporter and Special to The Southern News –
The construction of a new apartment complex gave Southern Students a place to live off campus and introduced a unique coexistence between a private business and a public university.
This complex was built for students at Southern Connecticut State University. The property sits three tenths of a mile from the center of campus, giving students the opportunity to walk to class, much like they would if they chose to stay on campus.
Phillip DeGennaro, president of Sound Development LLC and owner of the property said,
“We worked hand in hand with Southern from day one, we wanted the university’s input on what student housing should include, in terms of safety and comfort.”
The apartments are only open to Southern Connecticut State University undergraduates, and this semester 120 students reside there, most of who plan to stay.
“Three weeks after we put our units on the market, we filled up and 99% of the students who live there now plan to renew their leases for next year,” DiGennaro said.
Students who choose to live at 190 Pine Rock are required to sign a twelve-month lease for $650 a month. This price pays for four separate bedrooms, a fully furnished living room, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a two-car garage. All residents at the apartments are guaranteed parking on site and no one else is permitted to park on the grounds.
According to the New Haven County Mortgage Record filed in December of 2011, DiGennaro received a $615,000 loan from People’s Bank for the purchase of the six-acre piece of industrial property. Six months later, the complex was built and students were free to move in.
“This was definitely a quick build,” DiGennaro said. “We wanted the apartments up and running for the fall semester, so that’s what we did.”
Rumors have been swirling around Southern’s campus since the beginning of the semester, about the Pine Rock apartments. Rumors that say the apartments have been nothing but trouble for the university. There is even a rumor that Southern is looking to buy the property as early as next year.
It turns out that both of these rumors are false.
The Pine Rock townhouses are not for sale at this moment, said DiGennaro.
“Rumors like this tend to swirl around, especially in the real estate business,” said DiGennaro. “There are some aggressive brokers out there who try to start up the rumor mill but it isn’t true at all.”
At this time, Sound Development LLC is happy owning the townhouses, said DiGennaro, and the tenants they have are good kids and there have been very few issues.
“We like owning these townhouses and working with the school,” said DiGennaro. “These students seem very happy and we are going to keep it that way.”
Rob DeMezzo, Interim Director of Residence Life at Southern Connecticut State University said, “I don’t think the apartments are bad for Southern at all, quite the contrary I think they could be great, as long as everybody stays cautious and safe.”
Southern Connecticut State University currently has nine residence halls designed to house 2,600 students if all rooms stay doubled. Every year, Residence Life turns many rooms into triples just to accommodate the influx of students seeking housing.
DeMezzo said. “We go over capacity, and write a waiting list a mile long every year for dorm living, if the apartments cut down our waiting list by 120 students a year so be it.”
The construction of the Pine Rock Apartments also brings up the age-old argument, on-campus residence hall living versus off-campus apartment living. This argument usually starts with the cost to live in either place.
According to the Southern Connecticut State University Website, an in state full-time undergraduate student who chooses to live on campus pays a flat rate of about $8,000 for the semester. That price includes room and board, students then need to decide on a meal plan which could raise the cost to as much as $10,000.
According to John Hallama, a student who lives in the new apartments, on average he and his roommates try and spend around $200 on food a month.
Do the math, $650 for rent plus $200 for food; multiply that all by 12 months equals $10,000 a year. Residents who are living in the Pine Rock apartments could be paying as much if not more than students who decide to stay on Southern’s campus.
The on-campus, off-campus, argument encompasses more than just the cost of living.
Hallama said, “The best part of living in the apartments is the fact that we have way more freedom and we don’t need to sign our guests in.”
The most dramatic difference between living on campus and living in the apartments has to do with policies, or a lack thereof. Students who chose to live on Southern’s campus must abide by a strict set of policies including guest sign in, and alcohol sign in.
Students living in the townhouses do not have to sign in their guests and there is no monitoring of how much alcohol is being consumed.
However, DiGenarro emphasized, “We do not tolerate underaged drinking or partying, the safety of our residents is our highest priority.”
According to DiGenarro, the residents of 190 Pine Rock are great renters who, for the most part follow the rules that are put in place.
However for those students that do break the rules, there is a Hamden police officer stationed in the parking lot every weekend from Wednesday night to Sunday night.
“We deal with the same drug and alcohol issues that the hall directors of the on-campus dormitories have to deal with,” DiGenarro said. “Except when you break the rules here you get arrested not just fined.”
The riot that occured at 190 Pine Rock apartments last month brought a lot of negative attention to the university.
Along with the riot that evening there were also three seperate arrests that were made on the property that night. Ivan Santiago, Evan Marlow, and Victor Moreo all faced with a variety of charges and each held on a $50,000 bond.
DeMezzo said, “I believe all students deserve to have options, if a particular student wants live with some freedom, they have the opportunity to do that; however not everybody wants that much freedom, and structure is needed. The apartments provide them with another option, and they can choose how they want to live.”
While having some freedom at school is an attractive trait the apartments have, there are characteristics of living on campus that are more desirable than being able to have whoever you want over, whenever you want them to show up.
Adam Misiorski, a resident of the North Campus Residence Complex explains why he chooses to live on campus, “North is a great place to live, we have a kitchen, a living room and two bathrooms, and we have air conditioning that we can control.”
When asked about the rules and policies Misiorski said, “I don’t mind them, I know they are in place to keep me and the rest of the residents safe, and I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
The building of the apartments at 190 Pine Rock has given Southern students another choice when it comes to college living.
According to DiGenarro, there is still plenty of work to be done at the complex. The landscaping is unfinished and there are plans in place to construct fences and walkways at Southern’s request, to add extra security to the property.
“Southern and Sound Development will continue to work together in the coming months to complete the development, and ensure the safety of the students,” said DiGenarro.
As of right now there are no plans for future apartment construction but based on the success of this project, the possibility will always be out there.