Students deal with hassle of unfinished C-U apartments

By Marie Wilson

As students came to campus this year, at least five major living areas were still under construction.

Students who planned to live in these unfinished apartment buildings dealt with shifting move-in dates, construction noise and missing amenities. While some complained about the hassle, others were satisfied with their living situation once they got settled.

“You’ve got to deal with the construction noise,” said Dan Smart, sophomore in LAS, about living in the Lofts 54 complex, 54 E. Chalmers St., while construction was ongoing. “But I’d way rather move in two weeks ago than wait until it’s done.”

Partially completed buildings can be approved for tenant occupancy while construction is ongoing in Champaign and Urbana. However, in both cities, it requires inspection on a case-by-case basis.

Leases for the Distillery, 25 to 29 E. John St., gave the landlord, JTS Properties, until Nov. 15 to have the building approved for occupancy by the city of Champaign, and it was not until that date that the building was issued a conditional certificate of occupancy.

After the Lofts 54 building received a conditional certificate of occupancy, some work went on inside individual apartments.

“We didn’t have screens when we first moved in,” Smart said. “There were some finishing touches they had to add like the glass top for the coffee table and a mini-fridge.”

As tenants settled into their apartments at the Burnham 310 building in mid-November, Esther Patt, coordinator of the Tenant Union, said she received two complaints about the building’s conditions, stating that some apartments had no hot water and a gap between the walls and the ceiling.

What really sold Ankit Patel, sophomore in LAS, to lease an apartment in the building was the adjacent grocery store, and that is not complete.

“I don’t have a car so the grocery store was the main reason we chose this apartment, and it isn’t done,” Patel said.

At the apartment complex at 309 E. Green Street, the fitness center and pool were not complete in September when Danny Rudnick, junior in LAS, moved in.

Rudnick said these amenities, especially the fitness center, were part of what made the building sound appealing.

“I would like the place to be done for what we’re paying for it,” said Rudnick, who said his rent is about $700 per month. “But the apartment itself is very nice.”

What to look for next semester:

Despite the increase in construction of apartments, Phil Bailey, owner of Bailey apartments, said he thinks there is neither a shortage nor a surplus of on-campus locations available.

“On campus, no, but in the total city we’re possibly reaching a saturation point because so many big companies came in and popped up 300 or 400 units all over town,” Bailey said.

Since different landlord companies manage construction differently, Patt said an across-the-board change in leasing practices for unfinished apartments is unlikely.

“As long as there are students who will sign for unfinished apartments, the same problems will occur,” Patt said.