By Maggie Vancampen —
As of 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 26, 1,260 students have signed a new student-run petition calling for the removal of the Marshall leasing trailer from Brandeis Avenue.
Junior mechanical engineering major Ryan Cardwell started the petition. He first mentioned it on an event page that eventually became a spot to discuss the leasing office instead.
Cardwell made the petition to gauge if people care about the office.
He created the petition on opening day of the Marshall leasing office, when the company encouraged students with free merchandise to get them to sign leases.
University of Louisville spokesperson John Karman said the university posted a sign next to the trailer to clarify the Marshall is not university-affiliated housing. He also said he wasn’t aware of the petition.
“Students are free to share it with the city and with the developer of the Marshall,” he said.
Aptitude Developments co-founder Jared Hutter said that when they originally started looking at U of L, they couldn’t find any offices or buildings they could lease. They got creative and decided on the trailer.
“The University of Louisville doesn’t really have a main retail corridor where we could ultimately put a leasing office,” he said.
Hutter said they applied for a street closure permit on a temporary basis to put the trailer on Brandeis Avenue because of a university plan to make the municipal street a park for students. The street is controlled by the city.
When asked about the park plan, Karman said, “There are no formalized plans at this time.”
Hutter said for students who walk, the trailer has no impact. He understands traffic had to be changed though. “If you are driving down Brandeis Avenue, on to campus, where are you going? There is not really any parking over there, they just have to go up one extra block to go around,” he said.
Hutter said he is aware of the petition, but doesn’t think the students have all the facts. “Conversations are great,” he said. “I think it is important that for people to have all the facts out there so they can make informed representation of about what their opinion is going to be.”
Student Government Association President Jasper Noble said he takes issue with how the trailer happened, and how the university did not have the ability to stand up to this decision and could only react.
He’s concerned that students will sign leases with the Marshall and they will assume these leases will be upheld to the same accountability standards that normal university-affiliated housing offers.
“One of the goals is to create a process where U of L can play an active role in decisions that the city makes in and around the university,” he said.
Noble would love to work with the company to move the trailer, and work to find a different location for the leasing office.
“I think they want it to be a successful property, a successful student housing option, I’m just not sure they are aware of the scope of the students discontent with the trailer,” Noble said.
“We are open to having productive conversations with any local group that has an interest in the area. I feel that is our responsibility as we look to be a supportive member of the community for many years to come,” Hutter said.
Hutter’s concern is the expenses.
“What would need to be taken into account in any conversation however is that our team went through the appropriate path to legally obtain a permit and then spent well over $150,000 to build out a leasing office with a scale model apartment to show residents what the experience will be like when they live at the Marshall,” he said.
“To move the office now, there would be a significant expense and my first question would need to be who is paying that expense?”
According to Noble, students aren’t even aware of where the Marshall is. They just know about the trailer.
Hutter said the Marshall is ahead of schedule and will be finished in Spring 2020.
File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal