Duluth Apartments to become off-campus living community

On June 1, Augie will no longer rent the Duluth Apartments to students


On Feb. 6, senior Chloe VanGerpen learned that her apartment would no longer be a part of campus housing starting June 1.

She and her fellow Duluth Apartments residents received an email from Michelle Lisack, associate director of campus life, warning them of the buildings’ future.

Students will not be renting the apartments through Augustana after this semester.

“[Augustana has] begun working with Duluth’s new management company, Alpine Property Management, LLC, to offer [its] advice related to rental rates, included amenities, furnishings and lease terms to ensure as smooth and comfortable a transition as possible for current residents and future student tenants,” Lisack’s email said.

Alpine Property Management is the new apartment building owner.

Corey Kopp, director of campus life, is not sure how much the apartments will cost new and continuing tenants, but he said he expects Alpine Property Management to charge less than Augustana’s current price of $5,840 per academic year.

Just as Jim Bies, former dean of students, predicted in an article published in The Augustana Mirror in 2016, Augustana sold the Duluth Apartments to a third-party property manager in 2017 in preparation for the large class of first-year students that academic year.

“At the time, it was sold because it wasn’t part of our primary footprint,” Kopp said. “We don’t, as an institution, plan to build in that direction — toward Minnesota [Avenue]. And it has always been one of those places that has been hard to manage.”

Students like VanGerpen have been seeing these issues first hand.

“Maintenance issues have been going on since we moved in,” said VanGerpen, who has been a resident of the Duluth Apartments since August 2018.

In addition to mold in her apartment, VanGerpen said she has experienced many issues including dysfunctional air conditioning and heat, plumbing malfunctions with sinks and the toilet, a fridge that stopped working, a leaky ceiling, unreliable Wi-Fi  and a lock on her front door that shattered in the below freezing temperatures of January 2019.

“There are natural things that happen when it’s not our guys that are going over to take care of some of this stuff,” Kopp said. “It gets hard. And when you’ve worked with a third-party property manager, it gets even more complicated because they’ve got other properties, too. So, it’s about how we make management of that space not our priority but somebody else’s so that they can do it better and right.”

As the building transitions to Alpine Property Management, VanGerpen hopes they will be more responsive to the concerns of residents.

On June 1, any residents that plan to stay in the Duluth Place Apartments will officially be considered off-campus students. Consequently, they will also suffer the scholarship deduction that comes with living off campus, according to Kopp.

Kopp said he hopes the pricing of the building will make up for that loss, ultimately making the transition from Augustana housing to off campus less stressful.

By distancing itself from the Duluth Apartments, Augustana will have 38 fewer beds for students, but Kopp does not expect this to be an issue because of future building plans and the amount of current on-campus student residents.

“I think it’s a great decision to move on from Duluth,” VanGerpen said.

As Augustana continues pursuing plans laid out in the Vision 2030 plan, students can look forward to the development of more residential buildings.

According to the Master Plan, Augustana plans to add a new residence hall, another apartment build on Summit Avenue and more theme houses.

The proposed campus building changes were announced at meetings on Feb. 10-11.

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