Roomy apartments put students in happy space

Rizella Espiritu (left) and Lexi King love their new home in Agave Apartments.

Story by Rick Vacek and Ryan Kryska
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

Lexi King wasn’t surprised when Grand Canyon University was ranked No. 6 out of 1,371 colleges in Niche’s 2018 Best College Dorms in America list. It simply confirmed her opinion.

The living room and kitchen make for a comfortable central area.

“That’s pretty much the main reason I came here,” the sophomore psychology major said Tuesday morning. “I toured different schools, and GCU topped every other dorm facility and classroom facility.

“It’s really nice that you can have an apartment on campus because you still feel safe and you still feel like you’re part of campus life.”

The second day of Welcome Week was headlined by Move-In for Agave and, just to the south, the brand new Cactus Apartments. Despite a predawn thunderstorm that forced student volunteers to briefly take shelter from the lightning and heavy rain, Move-In started at 6:07 a.m. and continued without a hitch.

Agave, Cactus and the other two nearby apartment buildings, 1-year-old Diamondback and recently opened Jerome, quickly have become desired destinations for several reasons.

The bedrooms in Agave Apartments are 9 feet by 11 feet.

First, and most important, is the style of living. Each unit comes with a sizable kitchen and all the necessary appliances, a full-size refrigerator, a microwave, a bed, a built-in desk, a walk-in closet and cable and internet connections. The four-bedroom apartment is 1,062 square feet.

King moved to Agave with Rizella Espiritu, her suitemate in Ironwood Hall last year after they both signed up for a random pairing. They became fast friends and decided to apply for an apartment. Agave was the choice, Espiritu said, because “we really liked the color of the cabinets (a stylish brown texture) and the flooring – just kind of girly things.”

They also liked Ironwood, in the all-freshmen complex of four residence halls called The Grove. “That community was so awesome as well because you’re surrounded by a lot of people the same age,” Espiritu said.

But the apartments are a big reason why the vast majority of sophomores, juniors and seniors choose to live on campus.

“This is definitely the place to be,” Espiritu said. “It’s so nice.”

It was the usual spirit at Move-In on Tuesday morning after the thunderstorm passed through.

Proximity to three new campus facilities -- the Colangelo College of Business Building, the Canyon Activities Center and a new parking garage on Missouri Avenue -- is another reason why Agave and the neighboring apartments are so popular.

Agave sits a few steps north of the CCOB Building and is right across the street from the Activities Center, which will feature 10 basketball courts and is expected to be completed this fall. The garage is just to the east of the Activities Center.

Coupling those facilities with the nearby basketball courts, tennis courts and Colter Field makes the area that much more of a destination, and now there will be 2,500 students living within a few steps.

Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean, said he didn’t realize until moving into his new building Friday how many students are living in that area. But as the campus keeps growing eastward, Gibb noted, “this is about the middle of campus.”

The Activities Center will be the new home for club sports, and that was an attraction for Nolan Burns, a sophomore majoring in IT cybersecurity and a club basketball player. He said he’s stoked for the new facility.

Students greet arrivals at Agave Apartments.

“Club sports administrators have heard chatter from their athletes about students moving closer to the Activities Center and Colter Field,” Club Sports Director Dan Nichols said. “The east side of campus will be an active, competitive recreational and club sports hub.”

Angel Rodriguez, a sports management sophomore, is equally excited for the new club facility. He said he would like to try to join the rugby team, and his location on campus is doubly good because the new CCOB building hosts most of his classes.

He said he picked Agave because it’s “right here.”

“I really like it,” Rodriguez said. “I think this school can make a big difference in the sports industry.”

Rodriguez said he plans to join the Sports Business Club to explore internships.

“The sports route has always been my go-to, and this is the perfect place to do it,” he said.

Even individual rooms got into the welcoming spirit.

Ryan Tomkinson, a junior life leader at Agave majoring in counseling, said he, too, has gathered that the new feel of the apartments has attracted students.

It’s growing fast,” Tomkinson said. “GCU is doing a good job of making sure it’s accommodating for its growth, too. They go the extra mile.”

Senior premed major Sam Cruz moved into Cactus on Tuesday. He said that being among the first group of students to live there made it an appealing place to live.

“It’s really nice -- nicer than I expected,” he said.

King, Cruz and Cruz’s life leader, Tate Enos, all said that the convenience of the parking garages is another attraction.

Enos, a senior majoring in business administration, said he works off campus and sometimes does so at night, which makes safe parking nearby important. The proximity of the CCOB building is also a huge bonus.

Enos said he’s pumped to start taking classes there.

“I’m really excited to see what they do with this because there is a lot of opportunity for collaboration,” he said.

Collaboration is what Move-In is all about, of course. A frequent sight at the apartments was all the sofas being carried upstairs by the student volunteers, and that’s another reason why having all those helpers is critical.

King and Espiritu were two of them Tuesday morning.

“Bring your couch, bring your everything, and somehow we’ll get it up there for you,” King said.

There will be plenty of room for it.


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