Quality Student Housing & Academic Success
The importance of your student’s housing choices, in terms of both social and academic success while at Winona State University cannot be overestimated. Studies have shown that the quality of housing is correlated with academic success.
In order to be successful in college, students need a college “home” where they feel safe, secure, and comfortable. He or she needs a place with enough room to stretch out (without hitting both walls). Peace and quiet must at least be an option, as it is absolutely vital for sleep and study!
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope you’ll read the important information found below. However, if you have a specific question now, concerning the application, the lease, security deposit policies, or other common questions, please use this link: FAQs.
Winona’s Original “Alumnus-Owned” Student Housing Provider
Our company was started in 1986 by a WSU alumnus in response to a request by former President Stark for additional housing options (See below for more information about the founder of Bluff City Properties). In the past three decades we have grown into the largest provider of quality off-campus housing in the Winona area. We currently house nearly 25% of WSU students living off-campus. Our popularity with students and parents and our growth is due to a constant focus on quality. From remodeling and adding new additions to building modern student apartment buildings near campus, our success is due to constant improvements in our products and services. From the beginning, our constant focus has been providing and maintaining student homes that are secure, comfortable, and convenient, with an environment conducive to both study and relaxation.
Equally important, has been our focus on service during all facets of the selection and move-in process, and efficient and timely maintenance and repair services as requested.
Please direct any questions you may have to Scott Hanson our President at Scott@wsyou.com or call 507-454-4444.
Many college students and their parents are surprised to learn that it is significantly less costly to live off-campus than living on-campus. In recent years, rate for dorms and other on-campus housing in Winona have risen much faster than off-campus housing. Many students, depending upon dietary preferences and schedules, find that it is less expensive to prepare meals in their own kitchens rather than to sign up for a meal plan. However, WSU meal plans are also available for all of our residents.
Our goal is to provide value for your dollar. Our housing is always clean, in good repair, and safe. We treat your students with respect while keeping you posted on anything you will want to know. We are always available to you if you have any questions or concerns. We return all emails/calls within one business day.
A Word About Price
Price is important, but parents with students currently in off-campus housing will tell you that it is unwise to decide on price alone. You may wish to inquire about the location of any prospective landlord’s office and how many employed staff are available to respond to questions, problems, maintenance, and repair issues. Being on-call 24 hours for emergencies can be very difficult for smaller operators without a live 24-hour answering service and dedicated on-call professionals to respond to any urgent situations that may arise.
Our Office (Next to WSU. Open All Day, Everyday)
Our office is unique in two important ways for students. Located at 555 Huff St, we have the only off-campus student housing office next to Winona State University.
In addition, our office is the only student housing office open full-time, Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM. Our maintenance team is on-call 24/7 in case of emergencies. Regardless of your level of experience in renting off-campus housing, our friendly and experienced staff is here to help you every step of the way. Feel free to e-mail, call, text, or just drop by our office anytime. No appointment needed.
Safety and Security is Always #1
Our first priority is to provide students with a safe and secure home. All buildings, bedrooms, and garages are separately keyed and many buildings have remote-access key-card entry. This ensures that only residents and their guests have access. Security cameras are strategically located outside many buildings and in common spaces inside buildings. We are continuously installing additional security cameras at many locations. Secure parking and storage is available for bikes, scooters and cars in many locations. Students use their own locks to ensure secure access to their storage units (where available). Professional management and maintenance personnel are available to residents during regular business hours, as well as a 24-hour management and maintenance staff in case of emergency.
When to Sign-Up for Off-Campus Housing
We feel that we need to caution parents here. In Winona, up to 80% of available student rentals for the following year are signed in the previous fall. This situation is driven by student demand and results in the most desirable units in terms of quality, proximity to WSU, and price being signed the earliest each fall. We recommend that students seeking the best off-campus housing available start looking online in early September. This way, they can have their choices narrowed down to a manageable number for showings (we can only show a maximum of 3 units per showing).
If your student has their place reserved for next year by late September/early October, they will have completed this important task in plenty of time to prepare for mid-term exams.
Students are busy and have many important priorities. Later in the semester, your student will be very grateful to you for your suggestions and reminders to reserve their housing early. Many of their classmates will be scrambling to deal with leasing activities later, as the rush to lease the remaining desirable units increases along with academic demands.
Students choosing to live off-campus and receive financial aid can have it be applied directly toward tuition and fees. Financial aid funds can also be used toward students’ off-campus living expenses. Funds to be used for housing can be directly deposited into a student’s bank account to be used for off-campus living expenses.
Save Nearly 20% Each Year on Off-Campus Housing with the Minnesota Property Tax Refund (CRP)
When you live off campus some of your rent goes to pay property taxes for the property in which you live. Many student residents are unaware that they may be eligible for a tax refund from the State of Minnesota for a certain percentage of the rent they pay in any calendar year. Around the end of January each year your student will be sent a “Certificate of Rent Paid” form via email from Bluff City Properties, LLC. Eligible renters may get a check back from the State of Minnesota based on this documentation. Look for your student’s CRP in January/February and contact your tax professional for more information. The CRP is not available for students living on-campus.
Management and Maintenance
Bluff City Properties is managed by a professional staff during regular business hours. Management is supported by leasing, business, and 24-hour emergency maintenance personnel, along with students in WSU internship programs.
An Environment Conducive To Study
Our lease is very strict concerning parties and noise after hours. Most interior and exterior walls have extra soundproofing, so each apartment provides a quiet and comfortable place for your student to study and sleep. In addition, many of our housing options are located in quiet residential areas near campus.
Close To Everything on Campus
The majority of our properties are conveniently located just steps to the main campus of Winona State University. Other options are located a short walk, bike ride or bus ride to the main campus. This makes it easy for students to take full advantage of all of the facilities and activities the University offers. Many of our units are actually closer to classrooms than on-campus dorms. Also within the area are a number of restaurants, a grocery store, banks, and an urgent care center. Historic downtown Winona and the beautiful recreation trails around Lake Park and Lake Winona are within walking distance of most of our units.
Modern, Comfortable Apartments
Our houses and apartments are constantly being updated and improved. We built new, private dorm buildings one block from WSU in 2009 and 2010 and a new, 25-unit building was developed in 2011.
Students can choose from all the contemporary amenities that make our properties the ideal places to live and learn.
We acquired the 150 unit “Quad 2.0: Private Student Housing & Summer Hostel” (formerly Fingall Hall) in 2014. Located directly across the street from the main campus of Winona State University the Quad 2.0 is the only private dormitory in Winona. As of August 2016, half of the rooms have been converted to “Mini-Suites,”
complete with sink/vanity, kitchenette with built-in fridge and microwave, hardwood floors, custom paint, and window treatments. There are also a limited number of double-suites available where 2-3 students can share adjoining room. Despite the amazing room sizes, amenities, & location next to WSU, it costs much less to live in the Quad 2.0 than in a smaller, less desirable & often shared, on-campus dorm room.
Success in college requires concentration and focus. Off-campus living allows students to choose roommates compatible with their lifestyle. With the highest quality rental units available in Winona, WsYou/Bluff City Properties attracts a higher caliber of students. If your student is new to Winona, we’re happy to assist in finding a private room or apartment or a group of compatible roommates that your student will feel comfortable with. We have the knowledge and experience required to help ensure a positive and academically productive university experience.
Roommate Matching Program
We offer a Roommate Matching Program, so if your student is new to the University or would like assistance with finding roommates, we will match them with other students who are also looking for a roommate based on a compatibility survey, interviews, and meeting prospective housemates. A large number of private apartments with private, full bathrooms and kitchenettes are also available for students who desire a place with no housemates. Even the private apartments cost less than a shared campus dorm room.
Public Transportation at Their Doorstep
Winona has an excellent public transportation system. There is an Amtrak station one block from campus with direct routes home to the Twin Cities, Chicago, Milwaukee, home towns in between, and beyond. For these reasons, many students decide they don’t need a car right away. For those with vehicles, every property has off-street parking included in the rent.
In addition to excellent public transportation Winona has bicycle lanes throughout the city. We provide bicycle racks at our apartment buildings.
Bluff City Properties, LLC contributes financially for annual scholarships presented to learners at Winona State University. These scholarships are awarded through the Winona State University Foundation.
The Seth and Claire Scholarship
Bluff City Properties provides an in-kind scholarship each year to current residents to cover their housing costs while attending WSU for the following year.
We offer paid internships to WSU students that offer real-world training, and experience, with a financial stipend. Our internships, whether required as part of an academic major or not, can look great on a resume for future employment. Time commitments can be variable, from 15-35 hours per week.
Internships can be either “required” or “non-required,” as well as “for credit,” or “non-credit.”
WsYou/Bluff City Properties’ supervisor will coordinate with your WSU professor or academic advisor in cases where internships are taken for academic credit. Graduating with real-world experience is usually more important than grades in securing that first post-graduation employment position.
WsYOU/Bluff City Properties, LLC is an official sponsor of Winona State University Warrior Athletics. Through the Corporate Partnership Program, we assist WSU by making annual financial contributions for the purpose of maintaining academic and athletic excellence.
The Corporate Partnership Campaign, initiated to bring area businesses and WSU Athletics together in a joint venture, is used to generate much needed revenue for WSU to maintain its level of excellence.
Winona State Athletics is constantly identifying new opportunities to market and add value to businesses and organizations who share common missions, values and strategic goals to those of WSU.
Bluff City Properties Cares About Historic Preservation
Bluff City Properties acquired one of Minnesota’s most historic properties, the “Huff-Lamberton Mansion,” in 2011. The property, originally located on “Lot #1 of Block #1, City of Winona” stands as a testament to the hard work and vision of its original builder and owner, Henry Huff.
Henry Huff completed the drawing of the original plat of the City of Winona around the same time the building of his home was completed in 1857.
The grounds consist of approximately 1/2 city block in the heart of Winona. The mansion, now consisting of eight rental units has 24 bedrooms, and 21 bathrooms. Because of the large number of existing bathrooms, very little alteration was required.The members of a WSU sorority have been the exclusive residents of the building since 2013. The most historically-significant portions of the mansion have been reserved for private, and public access.
In 2012, Bluff City Properties acquired it’s second building on the National Historic Register. The “Schlitz Hotel,” a grand 3-story structure was originally built by the Schlitz Brewing Company in 1892 as a hotel and “tied-house.” After Schlitz Brewing sold the property, it continued to operate as the luxurious Winona Hotel into the 1980s. In 1982, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. After a sprinkler system flood in the late 1980s, it was remodeled into studio/efficiency apartments and has operated as an apartment complex on the top 2 floors with a bar/restaurant on the main level to the present.
Dr. Kevin Brady, founder and former president of Bluff City Properties, LLC, acquired his first residence from one of his graduate school professors at Winona State University in 1986. Responding to requests for additional off-campus student housing from former WSU president Stark, he opened half of his home to college students. While starting and building a local clinical psychology practice, he continued to acquire, renovate, build and manage a growing number of rental properties in the WSU campus area.
By the mid-1990s, under Kevin’s supervision, day-to-day management services were provided by trained office managers and maintenance supervisors.
“From the beginning, our philosophy has been to focus on capital improvements, proactive maintenance and excellent customer service.”
Since 2008 Scott Hanson has served as president of Bluff City Properties, LLC.
Academic Degrees Earned at Winona State University
WSU: Bachelor of Science Degree, Sociology/Social Work, 1981.
Master of Science Degree, Counseling, 1983.
Dr. Brady also holds an undergraduate degree in Nursing (RN) and has worked in the Nursing field in the late 1970s and early 1980’s for the Mayo Clinic system, Psychiatry units, in Rochester, Minnesota. He has also worked as a Registered Nurse and Medical Social Worker in Winona.
Dr. Brady has taught through the WSU Regional Campus Program and served as a Visiting Adjunct Professor in the Psychology Department of The University Of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. In addition, Dr. Brady has researched, designed and presented numerous continuing education programs, seminars and workshops for human service professionals throughout the United States. He has served as an on-site supervisor for WSU internships and field experience programs in both his clinical practice and rental property business.
“We feel an obligation to our student renters beyond providing great places to live.”
Dr. Brady was co-founder and Clinical Director of the Winona Counseling Clinic. In 1985 The Winona Counseling Clinic was the first privately funded state-licensed mental health center in southeastern Minnesota. He also founded and directed Brady Clinic in Winona from 1992–2002.
Active in professional development, he has previously served at the state level as board member and officer for Minnesota Licensed Psychologists. Kevin Brady has served as a board member and board chair of the following local organizations and committees: The Winona County Developmental Achievement Center, Winona County Senior Citizens Advocacy Program and the Winona County Human Services Advisory Committee. Dr. Brady is also former Co-chair of the Winona Housing Association. He has been appointed to numerous local City of Winona advisory groups, including appointment to the Housing and Economic Development Subcommittees tasked with making recommendations for updating the Winona Comprehensive Plan, 2007.