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Home sweet townhouse

Martina Rokke and Donna Lenius traded a pet cat for plush living conditions. The Concordia College seniors had roomed together during their first two years of school, lived apart their junior year and wanted to spend their senior year together again.

Martina Rokke, left, and Donna Lenius

Martina Rokke and Donna Lenius traded a pet cat for plush living conditions.

The Concordia College seniors had roomed together during their first two years of school, lived apart their junior year and wanted to spend their senior year together again.

They originally considered an off-campus apartment because they wanted to have a cat, Rokke said.

Then they looked into Concordia's new on-campus townhouses. They saw the long list of luxury features -- and the cat was forgotten.

"The washer and dryer were a big sell," Rokke said.

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Free laundry is just the beginning for the 72 junior and senior students lucky enough to have their lottery numbers chosen last spring to live in Townhouse West or Townhouse East, both open this fall for the first time.

Each unit is furnished with an entertainment center and dining table and chairs. Built-in speaker jacks jut out from the walls for surround sound.

Rokke and Lenius have to share a shower, but it's separate from the rest of the bathroom -- a huge step up from the community showers in the dorms, they said.

The kitchen comes equipped with a fridge, microwave, stove, dishwasher and more cupboard space than a college student could possibly fill.

"The kitchen is nicer than the one I have at home," said Adan Varela, a junior from Albuquerque, N.M., who shares a four-bedroom unit with three other men.

Although it doesn't appear they do much cooking -- a half-eaten microwaveable chicken potpie sits on the end table -- Varela said it's nice to know the option is there.

"We have enough counter space to make food for an army," he said.

Combined, the townhouses have about 38,000 square feet of living space -- more than 500 square feet per person.

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The purpose of the townhouses was to keep more upper-class students on campus, and Concordia officials are "ecstatic" about their success, said James Meier, residence life director.

"I think our only frustration at this point is there are little construction things that haven't been finished, and I know students have been frustrated with that," he said.

Varela said he and his roommates especially enjoy the convenience of having cable and high-speed Internet hookups in each bedroom, in the living room and even in the kitchen. They also get their own linen closet and food pantry space.

In the four-bedroom unit, each roommate pays $310 a month, which includes everything listed above, plus free utilities, heat and air conditioning.

"It's a pretty good deal," Varela said.

Rokke, a resident assistant and religion major from La Porte City, Iowa, said she also likes that there's no rent payment to make each month. The cost is included in her tuition payment.

To make sure the units remain as nice as they are, the college even provided vacuum cleaners and cleaning supplies with each unit.

"They encourage us to keep it clean," said Lenius, an environmental science major from Frazee, Minn.

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Varela, a vocal performance major, said the townhouses also are more soundproof than Concordia's other campus apartments, where he lived last year.

"It's very private," he said. "I don't even feel like I live on campus here."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

Martina Rokke, left, and Donna Lenius

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