Delayed construction angers, strands UNCC students

- Spencer Gallimore is among the hundreds of UNC Charlotte students starting the beginning of the semester without an off campus apartment, that he is paying for, because it's still being built.

Move-in day was Aug. 15

"Very inconvenient," said Gallimore, who is forced to stay at a nearby hotel. 

He's paying to store his belongings because the hotel room is too small. He is paying to eat all of his meals out because he has no kitchen. And he is paying $35 a load for laundry because he doesn't have access to a washer and dryer.

"The simple things would easily be done in my apartment," he said, "I can't do here." 

Gallimore is paying rent to live at Haven49, which is being built by Spire Construction based out of Fort Myers, Fla.

Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement Statement on Haven49 Apartments

County records show occupancy holds and failed code inspections. The private apartment complex, on University City Boulevard, is advertised to house nearly 900 students. 

"Even though the leasing staff confirmed multiple times it would be ready," said Gallimore. "It was just pretty obvious it wouldn't be."

Gallimore said he was informed right before he was scheduled to move in on Aug. 15 that the building would not be ready. Managers with the complex are paying students to stay at hotels. But Gallimore says that money is coming out of the rent students still have to pay - even though the complex is an active construction site. 

"I would like to offer you my deepest apologies for the construction delays," wrote Jay Williams, the president of Haven Campus Communities, in a letter addressed to students and parents. "We offer no excuses for Haven49 not opening on time. As a long-time veteran of apartment development, I know how important it is that our communities open on time. In this case, this has not occurred due to a myriad of circumstances, and I recognize the inconvenience and frustration that has caused. Please know that we are committed to doing everything in our power to complete Haven49, move students in and deliver the best possible living experience."

Williams has offered to give students gift cards, which Gallimore says he has not received, along with shuttles to campus.

Letter to Hotel Accommodated Residents

Gallimore is now being told he should be able to check out of his hotel, and move into his dorm, on Sept. 15.

"Do you think it will be ready by then?," asked FOX 46 reporter Matt Grant.

"Absolutely not," said Gallimore.

Asked about the affect this is having on students, a UNC Charlotte spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment since it involves a private housing and construction company not affiliated with the university. 

What is causing the construction delays?

Haven49 officials could not say why the apartment complex, which was supposed to open Aug. 15, has been pushed back a month with no guarantee it will open then. 

 

"Construction projects are very complex and each stage affects the timing of the next stage, and in many cases you're able to make up lost time in future stages," the company said in its statement. "So it's, unfortunately, impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of any delay. What I can say is that we are working as diligently as possible and closely with the City of Charlotte to complete the project and get students moved in as quickly as possible."

 

Failed code inspections

 

The complex has had several failed code inspections and work holds on construction. The company defended this, however, as common.

 

Notice to Residents Staying with Friends and Family

 

"Inspections are a very important part of any construction project to ensure the quality of the community, and it's common to work through several rounds with city inspectors to make sure everything is in order," a statement sent to FOX 46 on behalf of the apartment complex read. "There are hundreds of inspections throughout a construction project, and the things inspectors are looking at are too important to review just once. We're committed to developing the highest quality communities possible and work through every inspection as diligently and thoroughly as we can. We continue to do that and we are working closely with the City of Charlotte to get students moved in as soon as possible." 

 

Haven49 Statement

 

"We sincerely apologize to the students who have been negatively impacted by these construction delays and recognize the inconvenience and associated challenges that this has caused. We thank them for their continued understanding. Unfortunately, we have encountered additional delays that have pushed our anticipated move-in date to September 15. Should we have any further updates or potential adjustments to our anticipated schedule, we will be sure to keep the lines of communication open. 

With that said, we are committed to delivering a great project, and we are pleased to report that we are in the final phase of that process. We are offering a weekly stipend to residents who have been inconvenienced, are continuing to pay for hotel accommodations for some residents and are providing shuttle services for residents staying at hotels that do not have light rail access. We will continue to do everything we can to complete construction and get students moved into the community as soon as possible."

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