Euro-design arrives in college neighborhood

When it comes to getting your own pad in a college town, the stakes have been raised in Fort Collins—to a penthouse apartment with a rooftop hot tub overlooking campus.

Campus Flats @ Ram’s Crossing, a new apartment complex at 908 West Lake Street is launching the concept of Europads: luxury flexible living spaces with all the amenities.

“It’s sort of a play on words,” said Ram’s Crossing owner, Charles Gower. “Your own pad, your space, your lifestyle.”

Inspired by European small-space living, Gower and his wife, Cheryl DiPanfilo, came up with the idea for the 36-unit complex slated to open May 15. It offers flats, two bedrooms and 1,050 square foot, three-bedroom penthouse lofts that include spiral staircases, one and a half baths, vaulted ceilings and double decks.

Aside from the rooftop hot tubs, which “you won’t find anywhere else in town” according to DiPanfilo, the unique floor plans set this property apart from traditional apartment layouts. They’re missing walls.

“Without walls, it feels bigger,” DiPanfilo said about the new apartments.

With the open floor plan, tenants can define separate spaces by hanging fabric curtains, screen divisions or strategic furniture placement. There are no closets in the flex wall areas, but there is one walk-in closet near the entry, which also boasts a full size washer and dryer.

“You can switch the living room to the bedroom if you want to,” DiPanfilo said. “It’s your own pad.”

Each flat comes with a private deck. Some have views of the community pool and the mountains to the west and others overlook CSU’s arboretum to the east. DiPanfilo is confident that should there be a new football stadium on campus in the future, residents with rooftop decks will be able to watch home games.

Emily Allen, community liaison for Off-Campus Life at CSU said that the trend for high-end apartments isn’t necessarily student driven.

“It’s more a need for housing options within the Fort Collins community,” she said. “With the vacancy rate as low as it has been in recent years, there has been an increase in demand in the rental market place.”

Allen said new facilities are being built that offer amenities that are standard with current building practices. When asked how students are able to afford these kinds of apartments she said the assumption would be that they are paying for these apartments the same way they always have been: working while in college, or with help from family, friends or financial aid.

“The new apartment complexes that are being built, are just that, new,” Allen said. “As with everything in our society, new is exciting and fresh and will draw people in; only time will let us know what our students think of the latest offerings in off-campus living.”

The draftsman behind these apartment designs is Matt Rankin owner of r4 Architects, a local company that specializes in private commercial development such as student housing, medical and surgery centers.

Units range from $1150 to $2550. They come with hardwood floors, elegant light fixtures and custom bathroom tile imported from Europe.

Pricing comparisons put Campus Flats in a similar range as two other privately owned complexes that have been recently been built on Laurel Street—adjacent to campus. They are considered luxury apartments that offer similar amenities, though their rates top out at about $1,900, not including the hot tubs.

Campus Flats represent a pretty big stretch from typical dormitory style living in college. While they are open for anyone to rent, they are geared toward students who want the indulgences and privacy they’ve been used to at home.

Universities around the country are ramping up their dormitory renovations as a recruiting tool to attract new students. Private developers like Rams Crossing in Fort Collins are jumping in on the trend while it’s hot. Nationwide, student housing totaling more than 30,000 beds is estimated to be under construction around campuses according to a December report by the Wall Street Journal.

Jo Stoeber, community manager for Ram’s Crossing said that Colorado State has made tremendous progress in renovating existing spaces to make them more high-end and appealing and have constructed several new facilities on campus.

“However, the public university system in Colorado is underfunded and cannot afford to be in the real estate development business,” she said.

Even though its long term goal is to keep more students on campus longer and to create more desirable study/living environments, the private development option is much more cost effective said Stoeber. She said Ram’s Crossing is in constant communication with the University and is trying its best to fill the current student-housing deficit.