High-rise apartments offer luxury off-campus living to students


Knox Coulter | Staff Photographer

The Bridge on Forbes is currently under construction and is estimated to be complete by August 2019.

By Sid Lingala, Staff Writer

Splurging on top-of-the-line and lavish living arrangements is usually the last thing that cost-conscious students do. But Oakland is seeing a rise in the construction of luxurious apartments.

Amanda Weaver, a community manager at One on Centre apartments, credits the building’s recent opening as a landmark for student living.

“We were the first off-campus dedicated luxury student housing last year. Now, we have Bridge on Forbes coming in, so they’ll have it a little bit easier than we did because we kind of paved the way for them,” Weaver said. “There’s a lot of off-campus housing in the Oakland area, but not like this.”

One on Centre, a 17-story building with 329 rooms, opened on Aug. 24 and is still under construction after two full years of work. Meanwhile, The Bridge on Forbes apartments, which contains 197 rooms, is expected to be completed by August 2019. Both apartments offer studios, one-bedroom and one-bathroom, two-bedroom and two-bathroom and three-bedroom and three-bathroom options.

Brock Birden, the community manager at The Bridge on Forbes, said there is a need for higher-end living arrangements because other than its sister property, SkyVue Apartments, there isn’t much luxurious living — and luxury apartments are novel options to residents in the area.

“Oakland is a great place that just needs new fresh housing here,” Birden said. “You don’t have just one choice. You can go to single-family living or a luxury community like The Bridge on Forbes.”

Weaver said the luxuriousness of One on Centre comes from aspects like quality finishes on cabinets and the floor to the numerous furniture pieces included with the room.

“We have all stainless-steel appliances and quartz countertops, which is kind of more high-end. But it’s durable as well,” Weaver said. “We also offer 50-inch smart TVs in our units as well. So that kind of caters itself to be a luxury. We also have Tempur-Pedic mattresses, which is something that you probably don’t see many places.”

Birden also said The Bridge on Forbes will appeal to residents through premium finishes and furniture similar to what is offered at One on Centre. Furthermore, rooms include bells and whistles that would not be expected at other living arrangements.

“We have soft-close cabinets, so if you have roommates that cook late, you know they’re not slamming cabinets. You have under-cabinet lighting,” Birden said. “If you like to shave or do your makeup, you now have this magnifying glass in your bathroom. It’s like they really thought of everything.”

The amenities each building offers further substantiate their claims to upscale living. Both buildings offer fitness centers, community spaces, grilling areas and recreational centers. But unlike other high-end buildings, these offer unique amenities like a PGA Tour golf simulator in One on Centre and a zen garden at The Bridge on Forbes.

“The golf simulator’s kind of like over-the-top. It’s something that residents love to have, but it’s not necessarily a need for them,” Weaver said. “We also have a sauna.”

Birden said while The Bridge on Forbes is conducive to student living with single and group-study rooms, the apartment is not exclusively student housing.

Weaver, on the other hand, said One on Centre is geared to students with amenities such as computer labs, study and conference rooms and free printing.

Knox Coulter | Staff Photographer
One on Centre — a 17-story building with 329 rooms and prices starting at $999 — opened in August after two years of construction.

“At other older properties of mine, we tend to have movie rooms and stuff like that. They don’t get used very often,” Weaver said. “We’ve kind of seen what students really want and need and we’ve catered our buildings to those things. Study rooms are one thing that I can tell you, when we go there, will probably all be full.”

Both buildings also have leasing options that are geared towards students. Rather than offering units, both apartments lease by the bed. Residents can live with their friends or use a roommate-matching service that accounts for information about habits and interests.

Birden said this is a better and individualized alternative to students than traditional leasing, where a group of students would have to co-sign a lease together. An individual lease would avoid problems in the case of a roommate wanting to leave the arrangement.

“You can still live with two other friends and if one friend decides to leave, you don’t have to worry about covering their rent,” Birden said. “You just worry about what you signed for. It makes it super simple on you.”

But the many amenities and splendors offered by these buildings are accompanied with a steep price. One on Centre’s rates start at $999 for a three-bedroom and three-bathroom apartment, and rise to $1,655 for a one-bedroom and one-bathroom apartment. The Bridge on Forbes starts at $965 for a three-bedroom apartment and goes up to $1,710 for a one-bedroom.

Weaver said the cost of luxury apartments is worth the convenience that comes from amenities included with the rent.

“A lot of the value comes in the things that we offer with our apartments. So having fully furnished apartments means you don’t have to buy your own furniture. It makes moving day a lot easier,” Weaver said. “That’s why the price is higher. Because we do offer those amenities included in the rent price and you’re not having to pay extra.”

Despite the value Weaver discussed, Kyle Chang, a sophomore biology major, said luxury apartments lack many of the conveniences that on-campus dormitories have — even though they are similarly priced.

“I think [luxury apartments] are not worth as much as they cost,” Chang said. “A dorm has the luxuries of locations and dining passes so it’s really convenient. Even though dorming is pricey, it’s not as pricey as it can be.”

Chang said the advent of luxury apartments in Oakland has the potential for opening up a new space for students.

“I think luxury apartments are for students who are more drawn to those facilities, as opposed to school facilities,” Chang said. “They’ll have their own little micro environment separated from the school environment because they are staying in their own apartments.”