Blackstone voted favorite student housing

The Blackstone apartments, sitting directly on the Park Blocks, drew the most votes for best housing, with the Goose Hollow Tower running second.

The high approval rate for Blackstone proved no news to Dennis McCauliff, director of housing operations for College Housing Northwest. He expressed a little more surprise at the second place finish of the Goose Tower.

“The Blackstone has long been our single most popular building,” he said. “It’s no surprise at all that it received the most votes.”

Popularity aside, neither facility currently has any vacancies and both have waiting lists.

Students entering and leaving the Blackstone have no difficulty defining what they like about the building.

“It has nice apartments,” says Travis Allen, graduate student in music. “And it’s an old-style building. I like that.”

Banbao Xu, from Peking, China, recently returned to Portland State University as a student after some time away. He had previously spent four years here, he said. He moved into the Blackstone a month ago and likes it a lot.

“I like the location,” he said. “And the trees, I love them.” The Blackstone faces a spreading array of the Park Blocks’ trees.

Location is also mentioned by Brian Guyette, an undeclared freshman.

“It’s close to the campus. That’s a big advantage,” he said. “I really like the people. The people in the building can help you with your studies.”

A residential hall couldn’t be closer to the center of the campus than Blackstone. Fronting on the Park Blocks, it is flanked by Millar Library and the Simon Benson House. Smith Memorial Student Union lies straight across the blocks from Blackstone’s front entrance.

McCauliff’s explanation for the popularity of the Blackstone tallies with the advantages voiced by students.

“The primary reasons would be the location on campus, literally two minutes away from most classrooms,” McCauliff said. “And the design layout of the units. They feature hardwood floors and really cool early 1900s architecture that many students really like.”

Another popular amenity he mentions is that the Blackstone is one of only two on-campus buildings that offer two-bedroom apartments. The Parkway is the other. The waiting list for a two-bedroom is long, as there are only 13 on the entire campus.

“Those students who are patient and eventually get the two bedrooms off of the waiting list love them because they are spacious and affordable,” McCauliff said. If the student is willing to live eight blocks off-campus, there are more two-bedroom apartments at both the Goose Hollow Plaza and Goose Hollow Tower.

Blackstone lists a variety of different accommodations. There are 17 sleepers, which have community baths and community kitchen. They rent for $264 to $460 a month. There are 14 studios at $384 to $486 and 20 one-bedrooms for $422 to $655. The six two-bedrooms go for $722 to $754.

Best place to live: Goose Hollow Tower

As for the Goose Hollow Tower, at 1630 S.W. Clay, McCauliff was a little harder put to assess the reasons for the second-place finish.

“I would guess that affordable rents, relatively large size and choices of studios, one and two-bedroom apartments would appeal to students,” he said.

The location is somewhat removed from the campus, but there is a shuttle van that transports students to and from the campus every 15 minutes during weekdays.

The 16-story high-rise tower features carpeted apartments in a neighborhood considered somewhat cool. The Goose Hollow light rail transit station is situated two blocks away, as is the storied Goose Hollow Inn, whose proprietor, Bud Clark, is a former mayor. PGE Park lies within easy walking distance.

A major attraction mentioned by students is the high-up view of downtown Portland, especially impressive at night. By day, residents may see Mount Hood and sometimes Mount St. Helens.

The 112 studios rent for $465, the 78 one-bedrooms for $609 and the 31 two-bedrooms for $780. The Tower has high-speed Internet access, in contrast to the Blackstone, which has dial-up Internet access.

Student Picks

Best Use of Money for Renovation
SMSU cafeteria and stage: 43 percent
Parking Structure Three: 33 percent
SMSU information desk, Broadway entrance: 24 percent

Anyone who has gone through the long cafeteria line and then searched … and searched … and searched for a seat knows that more space is a good thing! Once the Popular Music Board moves its noon gigs inside, the renovation will become more convenient, giving students room to eat and appreciate the entertainment.

With a close race like this, though, we have to acknowledge second and third place winners (there are no losers). Parking Structure Three came just in time. With thousands more students at PSU than last year, the couple-hundred new spots were still taken by the second day of classes.

And how cool is it to enter SMSU to find a smiling face behind the information desk waiting to answer your questions? In addition, this renovation brought most of the student groups together in the second-floor mezzanine, reinforcing the concept of “student union” at PSU.