By Simon Isham & Jacob M. Abrahamson–
Students who tried to move into U of L’s newest housing option on Aug. 23 were surprised to find that their new home was far from complete. Window frames were leaky or missing glass entirely. Construction debris littered the uncarpeted hallways. Bathroom pipes in some rooms dripped water, but many rooms had no running water at all.
Students were particularly shocked because, right up until move-in, The Grove was hyping the property.
“Who’s pumped for tomorrow!? Hope you’re packed and ready! #groveitup #liveyourdreams #moveinday,” read one tweet from The Grove’s Twitter account.
The Grove released this statement Sunday about the incomplete student rooms: “We will continue to communicate with residents directly regarding this matter. Given our high standards of excellence, this is not desirable. We sincerely apologize for the delays and are fully committed to providing our residents with the highest quality living experience.”
None of the students The Cardinal spoke to were aware of this apology.
U of L spokesperson Mark Hebert said: “We are extremely disappointed that several units were not ready for students to move in despite assurances that they would be. We have met with the senior management of Campus Crest who admitted their mistakes, agreed to our demands for increased secruity and promised to provide temporary housing and compensation for the students most affected. We are also reviewing our affiliation agreement with Campus Crest while they work to correct all problems identified by their tenants.”
U of L’s housing department suggested early on to Grove management that the housing project look into hotel accommodations for residents, in the event of unexpected construction delays. On move-in night, students were given the option to stay in unfinished rooms or be put up in a hotel.
In all, 23 students stayed in a hotel room paid for by The Grove that night. David Pagan, one resident, was among them.
Students who chose to sleep in unfinished rooms, or at the hotel, were not compensated. Those who chose to stay elsewhere were promised $50 off their rent bill for September for each night that they do not have a finished room.
Rob Dann, the COO for Campus Crest, said that The Grove was doing what it could to make it a smooth move in. “We always are very focused on taking care of our kids. If we ever have any delays whatsoever, we’re always focused on the students.”
The majority of unfinished rooms are located in buildings 3000 and 4000. A few of these rooms had so many issues that students found themselves unable to move in at all.
Andrew Donnermeyer, who plans to live with a friend and accept compensation until completion of his room, expressed concern about being able to get to his classes on Monday. “They say it’s tomorrow but I don’t really trust that, it could be a couple days. But, I mean, school’s on Monday so I’ve got to be down here.”
“We’ve been here all day long trying to work something out. It’s a nightmare. I feel bad because I don’t know what he’s going to come back to tomorrow,” said Anne Donnermeyer, Andrew’s mother.
The Grove offered to reimburse the cost of a meal for the Donnermeyers.
Residents find major faults with new homes
Most of the residents were able to move in, but still had issues with the state of the building.
“There are some windows missing past the the first floor. It’s hot as hell,” said Kavan Caldwell. “I paid to have a building that’s completed and it’s not finished.”
“It went pretty well, there were a lot of issues with the room though. Our room in particular had a problem with the AC,” said Landon Lauder. “Some people’s water heaters were not working. Some people had leaks everywhere. Our floor had scuff marks.”
Other students complained about the preparedness of Grove staff to deal with resident concerns. “I stood in an eight-person line for an hour and a half,” said Skylar Hermann.
Her father, Mark Hermann, agreed. “They had to stand in a line that evidently was very disorganized. Last year, Bettie (Johnson Hall) was a lot more organized,” he said.
“I feel like they all mean well but there just in a situation with the construction and all that going on that there just not able to do as much as they want to,” said Linda Jeoung.
Students pay advance rent for
One student, Sarah Erhart, said she had already paid two months rent. “I paid over a thousand dollars for July and August. Nothing’s complete, and what they have done is just really shoddy.”
Some students said that they did not pay rent over the summer months. The Grove had encouraged students to pay for August and July of 2015, but failure to pay did not prevent the students from moving in.
Grove management said that the July 2015 payment will serve as a security deposit.
Wide-open doors cause security concerns on first night
Crime also may be an issue while the complex is incomplete. A crime notice posted on the parking garage door said that an armed robbery of $100 had taken place at 2 a.m. in the stairwell of one of the buildings.
According to Grove residents, the robbery took place because the front doors of the property remained propped open and unlocked all night. The students also cited a lack of security fencing on the premises among their security concerns.
Dann, Campus Crest Properties’ COO, said, “safety and security of the kids are the most important things to us.”