Months after hundreds of UNC Charlotte students experienced delays moving into their new University City-area apartments, some say they’re still waiting for developers to honor their original agreements.
Circle University City and Arcadia are two of the new developments with still-unfinished amenities for current residents that also are completing units for students living in hotels or commuting until their apartments are finished.
Circle University City
Cindy McGrath is a former Lake Norman resident who now lives in Maryland. Her daughter, Brooke McGrath, is a third-year student in UNCC’s architecture program.
Cindy McGrath said she believes developers are taking advantage of students.
Brooke McGrath signed a lease with Circle University City because it is closest to where her classes are on campus and because of the amenities the development offered, Cindy McGrath said.
A week before Brooke McGrath was supposed to move in, however, they learned there would be a delay. Cindy McGrath said she ended up having to make two trips to Charlotte instead of just one: The first to move Brooke’s things to storage while her daughter lived in a hotelm, the second to move Brooke into the new apartment.
The developers tried to compensate for the inconvenience by taking $300 off Brooke’s rent in September, Cindy McGrath said. But that didn’t cover the extra costs incurred, and the same was true for the families of her daughter’s roommates, who all live in New England, McGrath said.
“None (lives) around the corner. It was crazy,” McGrath said. “Families had to deal with flights; if they had to cancel or try to change (times or dates), they had to pay ridiculous rates. The inconvenience was not at all compensated by the $300 (off rent) they gave the first month, for sure.”
To date, McGrath said, they’ve been incurring roughly $75 per month in unplanned extra expenses because community amenities such as the fitness room and tanning facilities aren’t finished.
McGrath said the development has taken $50 off the rent for October and November but noted that the gym membership and tanning packages required contracts, so the student resident will still have to pay those extra expenses even after the onsite amenities are finished.
Ben Collins, vice president of multifamily development for Crescent Communities, confirmed that students have received $50 per month in amenity concessions while the community is being completed. He said all amenities are expected to be finished before December.
While four of the community’s six buildings are finished, Collins said, students who have yet to move in are receiving hotel and weekly stipends and are not paying rent until they move in.
Collins said that 105 students are still receiving stipends, though only 77 remain in hotels; the rest are commuting.
Project officials said the move-in date has been extended three times since the initial delay notification, caused by subcontractor manpower, inspection results and reduced construction hours resulting from efforts to work around residents’ schedules.
More than 200 residents were moved in during September, meaning more than 85 percent of all residents have moved in, said Shawn Regan, Southeast regional manager for Grand Campus Living, on behalf of Arcadia Student Living.
The option to move into a furnished unit – even if it wasn’t the room students had signed a lease for – was offered in late October to about 42 students still in hotels or commuting, Regan said.
About half those declined to move into the alternative units and will continue to receive a stipend and rent concession until their units are complete, he said. In late October, officials projected all residents would be onsite by Nov. 22.
Students already living on site continue to receive rent concessions until the clubhouse is finished.
Internet, TV and phone service is provided for residents, Regan said, noting that Arcadia provided wireless internet and HD antennas until AT&T finished installing service in every unit in late October.
Other utility problems for the community’s first residents included low water pressure for some when a valve was partially closed during light-rail construction along N.C. 49, as well as lowered power loads to two units while Duke Energy repaired a cable, Regan said.
Darlene Heater, executive director of University City Partners, was part of the collaboration at the end of August between developers, UNCC, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the UCity business community that worked to accommodate delayed move-ins.
More than 650 rooms were offered by more than a dozen local hotels, and sometimes there were two students per room. The hotels had glowing reports about the students. Heater’s own son experienced a three- to four-week delay in moving into Arcadia, but she said he’s been pleased with the concessions the developer has made so far.
For students still living in hotels, officials continue to make sure they’re provided with transportation to and from campus, and other services, Heater said.
“All the hotels the students stayed in just had stellar reports. Students were courteous, respectful and there were no real incidents they had to deal with,” she said.
“We’re so pleased with the way students behaved and (with) the logistics the apartments and university put in place to accommodate students.
“All things considered, I think it went very well.”