‘Sinking’ structure forces students out of UNC Charlotte-area apartments on eve of exams

Arcadia Student Apartments

Arcadia student apartments, 707 Sanctuary Place where
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Arcadia student apartments, 707 Sanctuary Place where

For the second time in as many years, students were told to move out of off-campus apartments near UNC Charlotte because of suspected issues with a building’s construction.

Residents at one building of the upscale Arcadia apartments, where amenities include a yoga center, tanning beds, and outdoor grills and a barbecue smoker, were told Saturday that they needed to move out immediately while engineers inspect the structure.

Staff at the student apartment community noticed “small settling” in the development’s clubhouse, spokesman Mike Evans said. He represents the apartment’s owners. Engineers were called in to inspect all buildings. The engineers decided that building 18, which is near the clubhouse, needed more testing, Evans said Monday.

There is evidence at the rear of the building by the HVAC units that the structure is sinking.

Mecklenburg County inspection request.

The exact nature of the problem is still unknown, and Evans said the engineers will need more time to gather information.

Preliminary paperwork filed with Mecklenburg County indicates the structure is having problems with “sinking.”

“There is evidence at the rear of the building by the HVAC units that the structure is sinking and will need repairs requiring a building permit,” a request for an inspection at the apartment building filed April 26 reads. The request was marked “Review of structural problems with new apartments.”

A county spokesman said inspectors haven’t been to the apartments to look at any problems there as of Monday. County inspectors will visit the site once paperwork is filed for new building permits related to any needed repairs.

Apartment management staff called the residents of Building 18 early Saturday afternoon and told them to vacate immediately. Relocation assistance is being provided, Evans said. Students were offered accommodations at other units in Arcadia, at a nearby apartment or at a hotel.

“The engineers are in the preliminary stages, but the safety of the residents is our primary concern, and we are doing everything we can to relocate them and ease the stress of moving during finals,” said Christy Shorter, vice president of special operations at property management firm Campus Advantage, in a message posted to students on the apartment’s Facebook page.

“There is no reason for concern about any of the other buildings,” wrote Shorter.

The apartment complex is large: Before the evacuation, Arcadia Student Living had 732 occupants in 39 buildings, Evans said. Developer Sanctuary Companies, headed by UNC Charlotte graduate Chad Howie, developed the complex, which opened in fall 2014. Sanctuary has also built an Arcadia student apartment building in Milledgeville, Ga., home to Georgia College.

While it was being built, Arcadia ran into construction delays that pushed back some students’ planned move-in dates by weeks or months. The apartment company had to offer rent concessions and hotel stipends until all units and the clubhouse were completed. Arcadia was supposed to be finished in time for mid-August move-ins, but by November 2014 crews were still working to finish the complex.

County real estate records show a company affiliated with Inland Private Capital Corporation bought Arcadia from Sanctuary in November 2015 for $54.75 million.

A UNC Charlotte spokeswoman said the school is working with students who might need extended time on exams as a result of the unexpected move, and has made accommodations available for some students who need temporary housing.

Second apartment building to run into trouble

Arcadia is the second recently built apartment complex for students near UNC Charlotte to run into trouble. In January 2015, the floor began to sag and the ceiling below a unit cracked at the Circle University City apartments following a party. Charlotte-based Crescent Communities, the building’s developer, moved all students out and made repairs over the summer.

Engineers later determined that defective floor trusses were to blame, along with overloading from a number of students at the apartment party. Floor repairs were made to about 40 units.

Students moved back in at the start of the fall 2015 semester. Crescent inspected its other apartment projects in Charlotte using floor trusses – a common structural element in most new apartment buildings – and the company said it didn’t find any similar problems.

Observer staff writer Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo