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Apartments vie for UNC student renters in Chapel Hill

This year two new luxury student apartment complexes — LUX at Central Park and Shortbread Lofts — will open near campus.

While spaces in both LUX and Shortbread Lofts are quickly filling up, the town’s longtime luxury apartment complex, The Warehouse, is still pushing for people to sign leases.

Last week LUX at Central Park gave away free rent for a year to one resident.

Students stood in line with keys outside of the LUX apartments leasing office on Franklin Street Thursday hoping to open a treasure chest that would give them free rent for a year. At one point they were approached by two people handing out treats with advertisements for The Warehouse on them.

“I incorrectly thought it was LUX employees trying to pacify people who were waiting in line, but I was wrong,” UNC student Lauren Sutton said. “I got my rice krispie treat and flipped it over and there was a sticker on it saying, ‘Warehouse apartments: Now Leasing,’ and their prices for rent.”

The Warehouse did not return requests for comment.

But the complex did lower its monthly rent for four-bedroom apartments to $618 for next year, down 21 percent from $785 this year, according to the complex’s website .

The Warehouse is also now pet-friendly, its website says.

Sutton said it was obvious the people handing out treats were hoping to sway those in line to sign Warehouse leases.

“Once I realized who they were and I listened in a little bit closer, they were saying things like, ‘You’re always a winner with Warehouse apartments! You don’t need a key to get your first month’s rent free, we offer that to everybody,’” Sutton said.

Sutton said a few people responded to The Warehouse gesture apologetically, confessing to having already signed a lease with LUX. Other people acknowledged the gesture as a funny and lighthearted advertising strategy.

“They weren’t slandering LUX. It was done in a really witty way,” she said.

Sutton said she had already signed the lease with LUX, so the advertising did not influence her choice.

“I don’t know if it would’ve affected my decision, but it did show effort on their part, and I think they’re aware that they have to resort to some other measures to keep their business going against all of these other apartment complexes that are popping up,” she said.

Larry Short , developer of Shortbread Lofts, said the marketing tactic is a highly uncommon one.

“One apartment complex ordinarily doesn’t go to another apartment complex promotionally and pass out information,” Short said. “That would be unusual.”

In terms of competition between The Warehouse and Shortbread Lofts, Short said he doesn’t expect much.

“We’re 100 percent leased for next year and they are not as far as I understand. So I don’t think we have any competition with them.”

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