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Student apartments have 'hotel' appeal
UMW students move into Eagle Landing

 A UMW student carries extra furnishings to a storage room in the new Eagle Village apartments in Fredericksburg.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/21/2010

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

Brian Hope said he shared a bathroom with six guys as a freshman at the University of Mary Washington. He had two roommates in his Mason Hall dorm last year.

Now a UMW sophomore, Hope is ditching the cramped dorms for what he calls a "hotel for college students."

"It's unreal," said Hope, 19, of Fairfax County.

He's one of 624 students moving into Eagle Landing, a UMW apartment complex across from the Fredericksburg campus. It's part of the Eagle Village development.

Move-in for most students started on Thursday and will continue today and tomorrow. Classes start Monday.

Students live four to an apartment. Each unit has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen with granite countertops.

"It's better than my first or second or third place that I had as an adult," said Brian's mom, Terry Hope.

A pedestrian bridge spanning U.S. 1 connects Eagle Landing to the main campus. Restaurants and retail space attached to the apartments--including Quiznos, Pancho Villa Express and The Home Team Grill--are expected to start opening this fall.

The five-story complex, with 156 apartments, was originally reserved for juniors and seniors. The university opened it to sophomores--who make up about half of all tenants--because of a lack of interest from upperclassmen.

UMW's board of visitors also approved a rate reduction of about 14 percent that is in effect for this year only. Still, at $5,950 per student for nine-month leases and $6,950 per student for 12-month leases, the apartments are the most expensive housing option on campus.

Junior John Dorman, 21, of Winchester said he signed up for an apartment after the rate reduction.

He set up the living room with his 37-inch flat-screen television and 15-inch speakers purchased for $25 at a Salvation Army thrift shop.

"This is the nicest place I've lived," he said. "I feel more like a normal person rather than a mouse."

A lot of students haven't yet taken advantage of their kitchens. In fact, they've been told not to use George Foreman grills because the smoke detectors are sensitive.

Fortunately, the smoke alarms didn't prevent senior Thomas Tutor from frying peppers, onions and mushrooms for an omelet yesterday--his first home-cooked meal in his new apartment.

"You couldn't really ask for much more," said Tutor, 21, who's from Maine.

Most students, including junior Jackie Aldrich, 20, of Connecticut, are simply thankful to have the dorms behind them.

"I'm just in shock," she said. "I feel like a grown-up."

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com