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Rush hour traffic passes by the new art installation under construction at Domus apartments. Credit: Tiffany Ng

Undergraduates looking for cheap housing near campus don't need to worry about the effect that the opening of Domus will have on rental prices, according to real estate experts and local officials.

Domus, the eight-story luxury apartment complex located at 34th and Chestnut streets, will open for rent in June, bringing to the market 290 new, high-end apartments targeted toward faculty, staff and graduate students.

Officials noted that whenever new housing moves into a market, it has an impact on the area, but most say that the difference in target markets - Domus apartments start at $1,799 - will make its effect on University City housing negligible.

"Because Domus is such a different product than anything else in West Philly, it probably won't interfere [with what] students are paying west of 40th Street," Facilities and Real Estate Services spokesman Tony Sorrentino said. "It's almost an extension of Center City."

The $71-million-dollar property, which is equipped with amenities such as an outdoor heated pool, a public art project and 25,000 square feet of retail space, "would be attractive to professors, empty-nesters and graduate students who may have typically worked several years to pay for an up-market rent," Sorrentino said.

Paul Sehnert, director of real estate development, added that the addition of Domus to the area may compel local landlords to improve their offerings as well.

"A better, newer product will always be raising the bar across the market," he said. "It will provide an incentive for other developers to increase the quality of their amenities."

And officials say the addition of Domus to the area will only help the University's goal of bringing students closer to campus through new housing like the Hub, located at 40th and Chestnut streets, and the new project on the 3900 block of Walnut Street, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

"The big picture plan is to give students options to live in well managed, secured safe buildings," Sorrentino said. "If students chose to do that, . families have an opportunity to live in those houses that were once single family and turned into" student housing.

With a stable, year-round University City community, the goal for University officials is that the neighborhood continue to improve.

f Sociology and Real Estate professor Janice Madden agreed.

"Having 18 to 20 year olds that lived here for nine months was not good for stabilizing the neighborhood," Madden said. "As you make the place more attractive for families, safety improves in the area."

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