Photos by Edward Averette and courtesy of Circle Problems Facebook page.

Over a 100 students remain displaced from Circle University City and Arcadia Student Living as the fall semester draws to a close.
Arcadia residents, G.R. Waldrop and his roommate, Conley Hicks, were part of a post-August wave of move-ins, in which more than 300 residents moved into the resort style complex. “They promised legendary living, and that was living in a hotel,” said UNC Charlotte student, Waldrop.

In October, the duo moved into their Primrose manor residence, after two months of staying in a hotel and rooming with a girlfriend. “One of our roommates was living on a pull-out couch for two months,” said Hicks.
Since August, Arcadia officials have provided off-site residents with $15 daily stipends (450-$465 per month) for living expenses, along with parking passes and shuttle service to campus. As reported by the Charlotte Observer, Arcadia officials offered the option for off-site residents to move into furnished units in the complex in late October—an option that half of the 42 off-site residents reportedly declined.

Campus Advantage, an Austin-based student housing company seized control from Grand Campus Living as property manager of Arcadia on Nov.10, the same day it acquired Hannah Lofts in East Lansing, Mich. (Michigan State). According to Marketwired, the acquisition of Hannah Lofts made Campus Advantage the largest acquirer of student housing properties since January 2013.
“I think the old management [Grand Campus Living] was obviously not prepared for this site and they just didn’t know how to handle everyone’s complaints,” said Central Piedmont Community College student, Raveena Sheeth. “They were obviously extremely disorganized moving us in and setting up move-in dates.”

Arcadia’s previous management, Grand Campus Living, originally set a Nov. 22 projection for all of its residents to be living onsite. However, delays have crossed over into Campus Advantage’s realm of operations.

Mark Evans, public relations manager for Campus Advantage, says that 14 students from Arcadia remain in hotels as scheduling conflicts with city and county inspectors postponed move-ins until Dec. 6, the weekend before final exams at UNC Charlotte.

“We are working closely with those students to schedule move-in at a time that best accommodates their schedules,” said Evans.
“They [Arcadia] told us all summer that we were on schedule and that everything would be done on time,” said UNC Charlotte student Cameron Abernathy. “They never once said it was going to be delayed.”

Instead, Abernathy and his roommate Kevin Yandle moved into their unit in mid-September to a host of problems. “Our peephole was on backwards when we first moved in,” says Yandle. “We couldn’t see out.”

The pair also faced problems with rent as Abernathy and Yandle note they weren’t prorated for the month of September, despite Abernathy residing in a hotel and Yandle staying with his sister who lives in the area. “We were still paying for the apartment, even though we weren’t living in it,” said Abernathy.

Johnson & Wales student, Jasmine Tate voiced similar complaints and was upset about a last-minute change, which forced her to stay in a hotel. “Me and my roommate were both out of state,” said Tate. “I found out on the day of my flight, 12 a.m.…I just got an email saying I had to live in a hotel.”

Tate moved into Arcadia on the week of Sept. 1, but experienced a series of setbacks before they could move in. “We were supposed to move in on Sunday [Aug. 30] and they called us Saturday night saying you can’t move in on Sunday because your appliances are missing,” said Tate.

Tate and roommate moved in later that week, but currently stay in a treehouse unit with a temporary certificate of occupancy on their front door. “We have leasing for every couple months and the inspectors keep on coming back,” said Tate. “They keep on renewing the occupancy.”

This is standard practice in the construction industry, whenever there is ongoing construction within a site.

In addition to renewing occupancies around the complex, Arcadia is in the midst of completing their clubhouse, which will house on-site management and feature amenities such as a swimming pool, outdoor grills, and group study lounges – complete with Mac computers and PCs.

“Construction industry best practices dictate that the lowest point on a piece of property is the last to be developed because of storm drains,” said Evans.

While there isn’t a specific completion date for the clubhouse, Evans states management’s ‘number one priority’ is to finish to remaining units.

In the meantime, the opening gates into Arcadia are not yet functional due to schedule conflicts with AT&T, whose phone system controls the gates. On Arcadia’s Facebook page, Tim Johnson cites the absence of working gates as a safety concern for students, a completely different reason for why they aren’t working. “I know there is still a lot of construction and that’s the reason for it not to be up and operating but not parts— parts can be received in a matter of days,” said Johnson.

“We are working diligently to have the gates fully operational as soon as possible,” said Evans.

Arcadia’s Phase II, which is currently under construction, will follow the completion of the clubhouse and implementation of the property gates, According to Evans, Phase II is expected to be completed by April 1. The project will consist of three residential buildings, which have not been leased out to residents.

Circle University City
The most recent delays for Circle were announced on Nov. 8 via email and applied to Building E and F residents scheduled to move-in on Dec. 1.

Darren Pierce, director of asset management at Crescent Communities, says widespread labor shortages have continued to impact Circle’s delivery schedule as the construction project nears its two year mark. “We are doing everything we can to ensure the general contractor finishes the community in a timely fashion,” said Pierce.

Circle officials noted in an email that they would have a series of construction meetings throughout November, but haven’t offered a specific date regarding move-ins for residents of the two buildings. In light of this, residents will be provided a $150 credit to displaced residents who will not have to pay rent until they reside in the complex.

On “Circle Problems”, an anonymous Facebook forum for Circle residents, tenants have expressed dissatisfaction over issues such as 50” television not being provided firsthand along with non-working appliances, water issues and smaller mattresses than the ones displayed in a showroom.

While Circle’s parking deck is open, the leasing office, gym, pool and rooftop party deck are under construction. Circle officials claimed the clubhouse would be finished in November and have given residents a $25 credit for amenities for the month of December. Circle’s Leasing Office is expected to complete sometime in December.

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Ed Averette is currently a rising junior, a Sociology major and Journalism minor at UNC Charlotte. He can be contacted at eaverett@uncc.edu.

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