The Union Apartment Complex

Union Blacksburg, Feb. 15 2023

With Virginia Tech’s housing policy that prioritizes solely freshmen living on campus, it is easy for students to worry about where they will live the following year. Housing complexes are cropping up faster than lightning, and anyone can get caught up in the advantages and disadvantages of the places to live in Blacksburg. A variety of students at Virginia Tech gave their input on their experiences living in these locations, and recommend others on campus take their advice when it comes time to signing a lease. 

Collegiate Suites

Collegiate Suites is an apartment community located 1.8 miles away from Virginia Tech’s Drillfield. This residence emphasizes their clubhouse which offers amenities such as their fitness area, coffee bar and game center. The building includes one to four room floor plans and the   complex has a breezeway passage that allows residents easy access from the parking lots to their apartments. Despite the services that Collegiate Suites mentions on their website, some ratings and student interviews say these arrangements are more of an inconvenience. 

The website highlights that they offer ‘high speed internet access’ — despite this point of interest, both sources mention that the internet hardly ever operates properly.

“The place is a great area to live in if the internet ever worked — it is not strong at all,” said Croix Javier, a sophomore majoring in general engineering. “Honestly, the internet here is awful, it barely works most of the time.”

Students have concluded that this area is safe and very convenient when it comes to getting to class and the local Food Lion, which is the biggest benefit for students without a meal plan. The Blacksburg Transit (Main Street North bus stops) are also close to the complex, although those with cars have experienced other problems.

“My only big issue that I’ve dealt with while living here for one semester is the parking policy and towing company,” said Eva Giguere, a sophomore majoring in animal and poultry sciences. “They are brutal.” 

The parking policy on the Collegiate Suites website states that they do not get involved between any disputes with residents and the Campus Automotive company. Additionally, this area has a first come-first served basis for parking, so there is no guarantee you will be able to park anywhere near your apartment. 

The Hub

The Hub, located 1.3 miles from campus, is famous among students for its luxurious appearance, stylish full-furnished floor plans that contain one to four rooms and elusive VIP suites, including a variety of duplexes. The website brags about their elevated living which includes a resort-style pool area, health and wellness center, broad study spaces and various lounging areas. The leasing office has also made appearances at GobblerFest, the annual involvement fair in the fall located on the Drillfield that promotes organizations. This has given students an additional opportunity to learn about the Hub — and receive free prizes along with their giveaways. Although ratings discuss the impressive amenities, students residing in this area have continually mentioned the burdens of maintenance services, parking issues and surprise fees.

Students living in this complex have mentioned many benefits of this spot, however maintenance has been an ongoing issue with a range of Tech students. For instance, rating websites like Yelp have regularly outlined that workers have taken months to fix minor problems in students’ apartments. Despite these issues, the Hub is priced at nearly $1,000 per month. 

“The maintenance is horrible, to be honest, everything breaks,” said Kathy Sueldo, a sophomore majoring in national security and foreign affairs. “My keypad barely ever works, and anytime it gets fixed it breaks again.”

According to Above Board Building Inspections, apartments that are completed within short time frames are frequently reported to have various defects and poor foundations. For example, the Hub community was built in Blacksburg during the fall of 2021 and was under construction throughout its completion in fall of 2022 — additionally, this was likely an inconvenience for students living alongside the construction. 

The Union 

The Union is a colonial-style apartment complex situated 1.3 miles from the Drillfield, offering a series of amenities similar to the Hub. It is conveniently located next to Kroger, Starbucks and a number of other strip malls within walking distance. Despite the extensive services that the Union provides such as their cycle room, content creation studio and large pool area, residents have complained the facility fails to provide students with necessary utilities that equip their academic success. 

“The Wi-Fi goes out 24/7 and it is literally so annoying,” said Hannah Small, a sophomore majoring in communications.

Small also mentioned the variety of rooms to work in, like the Clubhouse, although there may be some trouble if an individual prefers their own apartment when studying. 

“There are a bunch of cool study rooms, but with the units including three to four roommates, the bedrooms and the living room are extremely small, so honestly, just live at the Retreat,” Small said. 

Small also mentioned that the complex is right beside University City Boulevard, which is known for its daily traffic and typical congestion. 

“I really just don't like that my bedroom backs up to the street and I have four windows so my room is always noisy,” Small said. “Additionally, my assigned parking is in the garage which isn’t close to my building at all, yet the people who didn’t even pay for parking get to park right in front of their building.” 

This community is a great investment if you’re looking for a homey apartment with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. However, if a busy roadway directly next to your room will keep you up at night, Small recommends looking elsewhere.

Maple Ridge Townhomes

Maple Ridge Townhomes are two-story complexes that include individually keyed bedrooms, spacious living room areas and a “state-of-the-art” fitness center. Contrary to other housing communities, many students have emphasized the affordability of this location and the expansive outdoor lounge pool area. Some students have rated this community poorly, however, due to a variety of undesirable dilemmas. 

“Our washing machine was initially broken when we moved in,” said Katie Whittemore, a sophomore industrial systems engineering major. “My mail(box) key that I received also did not work until maintenance fixed it.” 

Students have reported the location is a bit of a challenge due to the fact that the townhomes are situated 2.5 miles from the Drillfield. For students with rowdy roommates, studying is another problem because there is no communal study area in this residency. 

“(There is)no study area, and occasionally the Wi-Fi will go out, although it’s better than eduroam (the university’s) Wi-Fi,” Whittemore said. “My biggest challenge is that it’s far from campus.”

Blacksburg Transit buses (Main Street North bus stops) are near the entrance of the Maple Ridge Townhomes, but any Virginia Tech student can understand the inconvenience that accompanies this source of transit. These can include the irritation that comes with inconsistent schedules and the constantly cramped bus rides, especially for residents living as far away as this neighborhood.

Roanoke Street Houses

Living in a house, such as the ones on Roanoke Street, after being cramped in a dorm all freshman year can be a relief and may cure any homesickness if an apartment just isn’t your cup of tea. Many students choose to live in a house based on their Greek life affiliation or the economical pricing of homes around Blacksburg. 

“The price of the house was part of the appeal,” said Ethan Schaefer, a junior majoring in general engineering. “Living here helps me have a good work-life balance. I like living with my friends, and being a walking distance from campus and downtown.”

Despite the advantages of living in a low-cost area, Schaefer recommends this form of housing to students that do not mind frequent noise and social gatherings. 

“I have my own room to work in, but I don’t get a quiet safe haven to come home to,” Schaefer said. “My biggest challenge is easily the noise of people at the house past midnight on school nights.”

He included that he has no other issues when it comes to living in a house, mentioning that the utilities are adequate, water pressure is sufficient and he is near the heart of downtown which is an additional attraction. If you prefer a social setting, and can easily fall asleep to the sounds of others staying up, this is definitely an area to look into.

The Retreat

The Retreat is a multi-story cottage-style apartment complex that is located two miles away from the Virginia Tech campus. On their website, the community offers two to five bedroom floor plans, walking trails, hot tubs and a swimming pool; this neighborhood also emphasizes their all-inclusive necessities within each home. However, students have dealt with a wide range of issues among the resources that this area provides and the equipment added in the furnished homes.

“We have had several ongoing problems with our microwave and dishwasher, along with needing a new lock for our front door mid-lease,” said TJ Brooks, a sophomore political science major. 

In addition to the faulty indoor utilities, students have complained about the arrangements of the community services that were not properly listed on the website.

“The Retreat changed the gym hours for residents from 24 hours to a tighter timeframe, which we did not know going into this lease,” Brooks said. “If we had known that the gym would be harder to use and that they were going to close the hot tub during the winter, our choice maybe would have been different.”

Despite the neighborhood opportunities that did not turn out to be what some individuals expected, Brooks mentioned that this area is a great spot for hosting functions, and the internet is perfect, even for guests.

“I would recommend the Retreat to anyone who wants a large closet space, fun stop signs and free Starbucks,” Brooks said. “Other than that, the place was cheaply made and falls apart at times.”

The Edge

The Edge is by far the closest apartment complex to the Virginia Tech campus, located only 0.3 miles from Goodwin Hall. The Edge’s online site spotlights their heated swimming pool, yoga/spinning room and their two-story clubhouse with several lounge/study areas. As pricey as this area is, students rarely have negatives to share about their housing situation. 

“I have had a few issues with the microwave, dishwasher and laundry machines, but maintenance is super helpful and usually really quick,” said Sarah Falls, a sophomore majoring in human nutrition foods and exercise. “They replace things when needed — for example, my microwave and dishwasher were quickly restored.”

The complex includes a variety of amenities, such as their outdoor gas fireplace, BBQ area with gas grills, their fitness center and a sand-volleyball court. Falls also mentioned that the apartments are spacious and all around convenient because of the distance to campus and the rest of Blacksburg. 

“I love the Edge, if you couldn’t tell,” Falls said. 

It’s safe to say that any housing arrangement you pay for will have its advantages and disadvantages. Taking the time to do research, speaking to current residents before signing a lease with an off-campus housing site and being more proactive will help you avoid the irritation of renting a lousy apartment.

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(1) comment

eolsen

There are a lot of other complexes not mentioned.

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