New YSU apartments rushed to fill vacancies amidst uncertainty of a fall semester

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The final touch was finished at 10 p.m. the night before move-in day on Aug. 15

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In March, we showed you the framework of the new Campus Lofts next to Youngstown State University’s campus. Those apartments are open now, but as you can imagine, it was a close call getting 70 units finished and filled as a pandemic hit and had students questioning if they’d even be on campus this year.

It took one year to build the Campus Lofts, putting 190 beds into 23 floor plans.

They also built a gym and common area on the first floor and put a washer and dryer in every unit.

“We got everything locally, like this is from Great Escape in Boardman. We wanted to give everybody business, especially during COVID,” said Sophia Harakal, Campus Lofts property manager.

They started leasing in December, which is about four months later than most apartments.

“It was hard to fill a building using really plywood to fill it. I only had plywood to be like, ‘Hey, look at this. Lease it out,'” Harakal said.

“So we just got to see the floor plan on a piece of paper and then she would send us pics like, ‘This is what this is gonna look like,'” said Carsyn Hoppel, Campus Lofts resident.

Then COVID-19 hit, making it harder to get contractors and the materials. But they did it. The final touch was finished at 10 p.m. the night before move-in day on Aug. 15.

“A lot of students waited to see what their schedules would be like in terms of school to see if they would be more on-campus or online,” Harakal said.

They added COVID-19 procedures — there’s a machine taking temperatures as soon as you walk in the door and there are hand sanitizer stations in the common areas.

There is even an outdoor space where students can study and still be around other people. They can do their homework on high-speed WiFi, which they said was even more important when they found out some students would be fully online.

“We wanted to be different. We wanted to give you the downtown vibe like you’re in a hotel. We wanted to give you something new, something fresh,” Harakal said.

We talked to a few students — who are the first to live in the Lofts this fall — about what they thought of their new pad.

“We are happy that we are the first ones to live here because we do walk around campus and have people come up to us like, ‘You live at the Lofts, right? Can we come see it?'” Hoppel said.

They didn’t fill all of the units at the Lofts this fall, but they are getting calls for new leases every day.

“I expect to fill up this upcoming year, I think, since kids have seen it. Kids are living in it, they’ve experienced it themselves and other kids can see it on their social media,” Harakal said.

Units at the Campus Lofts start at about $700 and go up from there, which they say is right in line with other student apartments around the university.

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