Summary. This is a review of Hawks Ridge (formerly The Lodge) — a unique apartment complex and residential community located on the south west side of Iowa City. Hawks Ridge offers numerous amenities and benefits that are detailed below. Click here for photos of Hawks Ridge.
Contact. The management of Hawks Ridge can be contacted through their website, or by calling 319-358-3500.
Better Student Living. Hawks Ridge is primarily designed for college student living by offering the option of renting economically priced individual rooms within apartment units. This arrangement is ideally suited for students who need less space and want to save money. However, as is explained below, non-students will also appreciate the economic living and additional amenities that Hawks Ridge has to offer.
Private Rooms for Better Sleep. Hawks Ridge offers an excellent alternative to dorm living — where two, three, or four students may end up sharing a single bedroom. In a shared dorm room, unless all four people sharing a room are able to go to sleep every night at precisely the same time, it is common for people to have disrupted sleep because of people coming in and out of the bedroom at all hours. In Hawks Ridge, each person has their own private bedroom. This provides the necessary privacy for sleep. It also reduces the building population density which results in lower noise levels as explained below.
Floorplan. The floorplan of the four bedroom unit is designed very intelligently. The diagram to the left shows how the central kitchen and living room are shared by the four independent rooms. The bathrooms are shared between two rooms, and each room has its own personal bathroom sink. This distribution of resources is just about ideal. Other resources such as the fitness center are shared by all residents of Hawks Ridge. Click here for photos showing inside the apartment.
Designed for Quiet Living. Because Hawks Ridge is popular among college students, people may assume it is noisy. In reality, most students are not like those depicted in the movie Animal House. What makes most student living options noisy is the fact that many people are usually cramped in a very tight space such as dorms where up to three or four students may share a single bedroom. Students or not, a higher population density in any building or apartment will result in a greater likelihood that someone will be playing music loud or having a loud party. Because of its design, Hawks Ridge is actually very quiet. With a very low population density per square foot, the potential for inside noise level is reduced. Hawks Ridge is mostly surrounded by trees and green space, so this reduces the potential for outside noise coming from streets, neighboring homes, or other apartment complexes. Most of the units in the building are designed so that there are fewer potential sources of noise. The construction of the building is such that many rooms actually extend out from the building. So, many bedrooms are like the corner of a traditional apartment building with fewer walls shared. As can be seen in the floor plan above, a third floor room (for example) may have only one wall shared with another room. The black area to the “north” in the floor plan is outdoors. In addition to having more space per person, there are large centrally located rooms and areas available for socializing or having a party which reduces the chances that someone will be having a party in their bedroom or living room. An exception to this is explained at the bottom of this review. If an apartment is facing the underground parking facility of building #4, there is considerable noise generated by trash removal trucks, hourly shuttle busses, occasional tow trucks, loud cars, loud motorcycles, loud drunk people shouting late at night, and occasionally people turning up car stereos at full volume late at night in the parking ramp. This can disrupt sleep.
Natural Lighting. Because the floor plan (described above) allows for even inside rooms to have an abundance of outside lighting, electric bills are potentially lower. Another benefit is that natural light is also a natural mood enhancer. Even the underground basketball court benefits from natural lighting.
Non-Student Living. In addition to providing housing for students, Hawks Ridge is also home to a variety of Iowa City residents who are not students. This is probably because of the relatively low cost of living, new construction, and many amenities available at Hawks Ridge.
Map. Hawks Ridge is conveniently located about 2 miles from downtown Iowa City. There is a nice shortcut for walking or riding a bicycle to the downtown Iowa City area. Driving doesn’t take long because there are just three main streets to get to downtown Iowa City.
Ideal for Corridor Commuting. Because it is situated near a quiet low-traffic four-lane road only a few minutes from I380, Hawks Ridge is an excellent option for any person, couple, or family who wants to live in Iowa City yet needs to commute to Cedar Rapids, Coralville, North Liberty, or other surrounding communities.
Public Transportation Made Easy. Hawks Ridge is ideal for people wanting to save time and money by using public transportation. Hawks Ridge has an express shuttle bus for transportation to and from the University of Iowa campus leaving Hawks Ridge on the hour at 7, 8, 9, 11, 1, 3, and 5 with additional service routes provided on weekends and for some evenings. The ride to downtown Iowa City takes about 15 minutes. Hawks Ridge is also served by two Iowa City bus routes; the Towncrest/Oakcrest (about two or three blocks away on Benton Street) and the 7th Avenue/Westport bus which stops near the driveway turn-off for Hawks Ridge. The Westport bus serves Wal-Mart and the airport and mobile homes that are near it.
Cost. By choosing a single room with the utilities paid package in a four bedroom unit, the rent would be about $520 per month which includes a $35 per month fee for indoor parking and also a $80 monthly fee for utilities.
Benefits, Amenities, and Features
About the Room. Each room has the following amenities and features.
- All utilities fully paid — includes water, electric, central heat, and air conditioning (assuming you’ve paid the $80 flat rate for utilities)
- Spacious private room with large walk-in closet
- Room has its own unique electronic key system that also provides access to the apartment and other facilities
- Built-in vanity, lighting, sink, and full size mirror
- Ceiling lighting fixture includes high quality ceiling fan for excellent circulation
- Window with third-floor view can be opened to let in fresh air
- Fully furnished room includes full-size bed, large four-drawer dresser, built-in bookshelves, built-in desk, table (works great for printer or scanner), and chair
- Room has plenty of power outlets on every wall
- Free high-speed Internet
- Plush carpeting
- Nine-foot ceilings with picture rails
About the Apartment. Each apartment has the following amenities and features.
- The room described above is independently rented, but shares a common kitchen and large living room with three other rental rooms.
- You’ll have your own private bathroom and shower (shared with only one other person).
- The kitchen is fully equipped with energy efficient appliances including full-size refrigerator (with ice maker), stove with oven, built-in large microwave, disposal, dish washer, and plenty of drawers and cabinets for storage.
- An enclosed pantry area in the kitchen provides shelving for storage of food and other items.
- The living room has two large windows and is fully furnished with couches, a dining table, chairs, and shelving.
About the Community
Hawks Ridge is located across from Wal-Mart and Staples on the south west side of Iowa City, yet it is only about three blocks from West Benton street and the Oakcrest bus route. Hawks Ridge community features the following free amenities, services, and benefits:
- Bicycle racks indoors
- Computer center
- Conference center
- Electronically secured and locked buildings accessible only to tenants
- Elevator service to all floors
- Fitness Center with state-of-the-art equipment, including
- Hot Tub (heated swim spa)
- Indoor basketball court
- Locker room with showers
- Tanning rooms
- Treadmills and a variety of Elliptical Machines
- Weights and strength training
- Game room
- Maintenance Service, available 24-hours
- Media room
- Monitored surveillance system
- Parking, plenty of off-street parking available as well as underground indoor reserved parking (optional $35 per month for indoor parking)
- Trash/Garbage waste removal with trash shoots on every floor (no need to go outside to put out the trash)
- Shuttle service to/from campus and downtown Iowa City which is just 2 miles away (about 15 minutes by shuttle or bike ride). The bus leaves every hour on the hour from 7AM to 5PM from Hawks Ridge. Downtown Iowa City departures are at 35 minutes after the hour returning to Hawks Ridge.
- Snow removal service
- Study lounges
Below are some other considerations regarding life at Hawks Ridge. There are only a few drawbacks to living a Hawks Ridge. Most of the drawbacks listed below are probably common to most apartments and homes in Iowa City.
- Air Handling. In four bedroom units, the thermostat and air handling system are shared among the four rooms. Here are some considerations:
- Air Cleaner. When purchasing an air cleaner, it should have sufficient cleaning capacity for the entire four-bedroom apartment unit even if it will only be used in one bedroom.
- Comfort. If one tenant turns the heat up, it will effect everyone, potentially making them either too hot or too cold. To ensure everyone’s comfort, it’s probably best to keep the central heating system turned down to about 65 or 70 and then use more efficient zone heating with a safe radiant heater. This can also help reduce the dryness caused by forced hot air systems.
- Cost. Even if only one person is home, turning up the central heating system will result in heating the entire apartment. This can be expensive. So, as explained above, for comfort and cost savings it is probably a good idea to use a safe radiant heater for more efficient zone heating in each room.
- Dryness. Forced air heating systems generally produce excessively dry air. Using a basic humidifier will help restore normal humidity to the indoor air. Forced air heating systems generally produce excessively dry air. Using a basic humidifier will help restore normal humidity to the indoor air or is excess moisture is the problem, it can be solved by using home dehumidifiers.
- Fresh Air. The central blower circulates the same indoor air over and over between all rooms without combining a source of fresh air. This could result in air feeling a little stale. Opening the window periodically can help bring in fresh air. Fortunately, all windows are operational and can be opened (unlike some office buildings).
- Smell. Because the blower is shared, if someone is cooking (or burning) fish or a similar smelly food, the smell (and smoke) can easily go through the entire apartment unit causing the two or four rooms to smell the same air. Vegetarians who are sensitive to smell may want to request sharing an apartment with other non-meat eaters.
- Carpet. Some extra work and care are required to maintain the carpeted floors in the hallways, bedrooms, and living room. There may be some extra fibers and dust created by having carpet. An air filtration system may help.
- Energy Conservation. Because Hawks Ridge offers an optional flat utilities monthly payment rate, those who opt for this payment plan may be less mindful of power conservation. Whether you pay a flat-rate for utilities, or pay according to use, everyone is better off when we all conserve as much water and electricity as possible. Consider purchasing energy efficient light bulbs, keeping heating and cooling within reasonable settings, and try to reduce water consumption. The light bulbs supplied in each apartment are incandescent. Consider using high efficiency compact florescent bulbs instead.
- Flooring. The floors in the kitchen and bathrooms have the appearance of standard Linoleum-like flooring. However, they are very thin decal-like surface stick-on tiles similar to contact paper. Because of this, they can peal up and it is easy to get a black dirt build-up between each tile.
- Kitchen. The kitchen is not large enough to accommodate four of every appliance. Because of this, four people sharing the kitchen would need to agree ahead of time about sharing appliances. For example, it wouldn’t be practical to have four toasters (one for each person), so one person’s toaster would be used. Similarly, the refrigerator is a bit small for four individual people to share. The best solution to this would be to have a small refrigerator and microwave in each room.
- Location. For some people, the location of Hawks Ridge would necessitate owning a car, unless bicycle and/or bus are considered acceptable options. Walking to downtown Iowa City could take about 45 minutes. Bicycling takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Some people are in the habit of driving all over town for shopping and socializing. For someone content with being primarily at home or in the downtown Iowa City area, a car would probably not be necessary.
- Noise. The noise level at Hawks Ridge varies depending on where you live. For example, it can be very noisy in any of the apartments in building #3 that are adjacent to the underground parking facility of building #4. This is because the shuttle bus, trash removal, and occasional tow truck generate a lot of noise which reverberates off the cement and walls. Voices of people talking (or drunk people shouting late at night) can be heard through an open (or even closed) window that faces the courtyard parking area. Sometimes people will get the bright idea that they want to turn up their car stereo as loud as possible inside the parking facility in the middle of the night. Then they will open the doors of the car and begin roller blading around in the parking ramp. This is one example of many to describe what can happen (and has happened). So, to enjoy a more quiet experience, consider where your windows and exterior walls face — especially if you are someone who wants to enjoy fresh air.
- Roommates. The two and four bedroom units at Hawks Ridge are for shared living. Depending on occupancy, you may end up sharing an apartment with one, two, or three other people. A bonus of this arrangement is that you might also end up with an apartment large enough for four people, yet only occupied by one or two other people.
- Shared Bathroom. In the four-bedroom units, there are two bathrooms. Sharing a bathroom with one other person may or may not be acceptable depending on each person’s schedule and habits regarding cleanliness. Since it is a shared bathroom, it may not be possible to hang clothes to dry in the shower/tub area.
- Utilities. The utility bills could potentially be an issue since climate control and all appliances are electric and they are all shared. There is an option to pay a flat rate for utilities. This is probably the best choice.
- In the unit evaluated, hot and cold water pipes were incorrectly installed in the walls of the apartment. So, the faucets are on the opposite side of what would be expected. This also results in hot water being supplied to the toilet which places an additional burden on the hot water heater (as well as increasing the electric bill). It’s not known how many units have this problem. It’s worth checking out before moving into a unit. Simply flush the toilet a few times and then feel the metal water intake pipe on the wall to the left of the toilet. If it is hot, the pipes were reversed.