Who can afford BlueStone Flats?

BY ARILL EMIG| Lake Voice News Construction continues at BlueStone Commons near the University of Minnesota Duluth. After the erection of BlueStone Lofts in 2013, the Summit company looks to expand their luxury apartment reach.

With 97 percent of housing in Duluth already occupied, there is a desperate fight for the remaining options, many of which are old houses or converted apartments. This is where the new BlueStone Flats come in: the apartment complex will add 142 luxury rooms to the area.

But is this high-end option what Duluth residents need? The average cost of a single room in the Lofts is approximately $780 and these rooms are typically in four-bedroom units. This makes the experience similar to living in a dorm or on-campus apartment (with much nicer amenities).

The space is very comfortable for UMD student Bridgett Clarke, who previously lived in the now-demolished Stadium Apartments.

“I like (BlueStone Lofts) because it’s it’s own little environment,” Clarke said. “I quickly made a core group of friends.”

Clarke has been living in the Lofts since they opened in August 2013. She currently serves as a Resident Advisor in the apartment which provides her a discount on rent; she has one other job outside of being an RA. Through her interactions with residents in the building, Clarke estimates nearly 40% of the tenants are non-students.

“There are families, athletes, and professionals,” she said.

This may be a surprise to some because the Lofts have been marketed as student-friendly apartments. But with rent and utilities averaging close to $1,000 a month, it’s out of reach for many students and even recent graduates.

UMD junior Peter Lee currently spends 300 dollars a month on rent in downtown Duluth. This is an amount he’s comfortable with and says he wouldn’t be able to live at BlueStone with his current income as a full-time employee.

“I’m a student and financially independent so there’s no way I could afford it,” Lee said. “The prices there are ridiculous.”

Students like Lee who can’t afford the current cost of the Lofts probably won’t be living in the new Flats. Rent there will begin at a minimum of $1,000 a month for a studio apartment.

This is nearly twice as much as the average cost of a studio in Duluth, which was $510 in 2014. The price is actually closest to the average cost of a four bedroom apartment in the area, which was $970 in 2014 according to Duluth’s Housing Indicator Report.

Students who can’t afford the luxury of granite counter tops and secure buildings need to choose their priorities carefully. Safety, distance from campus and public transportation should be taken into consideration. But most importantly, students need to be honest about what they can afford, according to Niki Pechinski, Financial Literacy Educator at UMD.

“Don’t inflate your lifestyle with nice amenities if you can’t afford it,” Pechinski said. “You’ll just end up paying for it later. If there’s any time to live like a student, it’s now.”

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