Cross OU refutes the possibility of low occupancy

A 1,200-bed luxury housing complex, slated to open in August, is being intensely marketed to upperclassmen by the University of Oklahoma housing department.

“We do have a waiting list on certain floor plans,” said Caleb Calame, leasing and marketing manager for Cross OU.

Cross OU, a suite-based housing complex, is a part of the Live OU umbrella marketing campaign, which also markets the new Residential Colleges as well as OU Traditions. Live OU is the university’s effort to encourage upper-class students to live on campus, said Debra Levy Martinelli, special assistant to the OU vice president.

But the Cross OU suites will boast some of the highest rental rates on campus.

For a semester in a two-bed double room with a living area, students will have to pay $5,299 in Residential Colleges and around $2,500 in OU Traditions, as stated on the OU official website. A similar room in Cross OU will cost $5,900, according to the Cross OU official webpage.

Live OU entered the upperclassmen housing market last summer, when Dunham College and Headington College welcomed their first inhabitants.

However, the residential colleges, initially planned as an exclusively upperclassmen housing facility, cooperated with the United World College Scholars Program and became a host for over 60 international freshmen.

“Perhaps, the expected occupancy rates proved to be wrong, and Live OU, together with OU Administration and Finance, decided to invite the international freshmen to live at Dunham and Headington colleges”, said Craig Hayes, director of the United World College Scholars Program and international recruitment.

“Our international students definitely have more experience living away from home but I don’t know if this is why the students were invited to live at Dunham and Headington,” said Hayes, referring to the United World College scholars living in the residential colleges.

Martinelli confirmed that there was a group of international students that was invited to live at the residential colleges. However, she denied that they were put there to increase the occupancy rates.

This was done in an effort “to relocate those upperclassmen students to the upperclassmen facilities,” said Calame, the leasing manager, even though over 60 international students residing in the residential colleges are in their freshmen year.

“Freshmen require different environment,” said Calame. Cross OU and the residential colleges are tailored for the upperclassmen, he said. Both Calame and Martinelli declined to answer as to why those freshmen were invited to live in the housing facility tailored for the upperclassmen.

The initiative to start the Live OU campaign came directly from OU President David Boren, said Calame. “The campaign has been in development for about five years already,” he said.

Jordan D’Silva, OU senior who works for Cross OU marketing, said that, in his opinion, it will be the OU community who will benefit from the project. “Obviously, that’s whom we are targeting,” said D’Silva.

In-state, out-of-state and international OU students are welcome to live at the complex, according to the Cross OU official website. Some of the amenities, however, will be open to the public: multiple retail stores, a coffee shop and a theatre are among them.

“If it benefits OU, it benefits the Norman community as well,” said D’Silva. “Cross is a great way to attract new people, which is always great for the university and for Norman.”

“I would love to live there,” said D’Silva. “There are so many options, which is just great for someone who is coming in their sophomore year, having so many options for the living experience.”

The new community is located on Fourth Street and Asp Avenue. The plan is to finish all construction and development works and welcome the first inhabitants for the 2018-2019 academic year in August.

“Most UWC students who live in the residential colleges have applied to move to OU Traditions for the next school year, since there are no resident assistants controlling the students all the time,” said Keta Dolidze. She is one of the international students currently residing in Headington College.

According to Martinelli, the outflow of United World College students will not significantly decrease the occupancy rates at the residential colleges. This may or may not be proven wrong when the new occupancy information is released for both residential colleges and the Cross OU in the next semester.

Construction workers reach the final stage in the development of Cross OU. The complex will contain a black box theatre, a coffee shop and multiple retail shops.