Clo­sure of tow­ers leaves ques­tions

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

The loom­ing clo­sure of the Chris­tiana Tow­ers, the twin 17-story dor­mi­to­ries on the Univer­sity of Delaware’s north cam­pus, has sparked con­cern over where to house stu­dents and why the build­ings are clos­ing early.

UD’s de­ci­sion last month to close the nearly 50-year-old build­ings about four years ear­lier than planned ir­ri­tated city coun­cil be­cause of the dis­place­ment of nearly 1,300 stu­dents.

The univer­sity ar­gued it would par­tially mit­i­gate the loss of beds through the ac­qui­si­tion of the Univer­sity Court­yard, a pri­vate apart­ment com­plex off

Delaware Av­enue, in July 2019. Con­struc­tion of a new dorm on South Col­lege Av­enue will be com­pleted in 2023/2024, which is also in­tended to re­cu­per­ate lost beds.

How­ever, UD’s ac­qui­si­tion of the Court­yard is not adding to the sup­ply of stu­dent hous­ing in Ne­wark; it is sim­ply tak­ing beds that were pri­vately man­aged and bring­ing them un­der UD con­trol.

“Is this the new math I’m not fa­mil­iar with? How does that work?” Coun­cil­man Jerry Clifton asked at a coun­cil meet­ing last week.

Caitlin Olsen, UD li­ai­son to the city, con­ceded that point when ques­tioned by coun­cil.

“It’s not a net gain be­cause we’re just mov­ing peo­ple in a cir­cle,” Olsen ac­knowl­edged. “I know this is a stress. I’m go­ing to work on it for you.”

For stu­dents at the univer­sity, the clo­sure came as a sur­prise as well. When the univer­sity an­nounced the clo­sure, of­fi­cials said they would as­sist the stu­dents who hoped to live in the tow­ers next year.

“Res­i­den­tial Life and Hous­ing is work­ing with stu­dents who in­di­cated a pref­er­ence for apart­ment-style spa­ces to iden­tify other on-cam­pus spa­ces or off-cam­pus apart­ment op­tions in the com­mu­nity, with many al­ter­na­tives that are on UD shut­tle lines,” said Peter Kerwin, a spokesman for the univer­sity.

Find­ing a place to live has proved dif­fi­cult for some, how­ever.

“I didn’t have an is­sue with the tow­ers clos­ing be­cause I think they need to be closed any­way be­cause they’re so old,” stu­dent Sam Lee said. “But I just wish they gave us like sooner no­tice. There was ru­mors that they were clos­ing at the end of this year, but then they said they won’t be closed un­til 2023-2024, and they tell us it’s go­ing to be clos­ing this year like two weeks ago.”

While she has found a pos­si­ble hous­ing off cam­pus, she still has to tour the place and sign the lease.

“It’s just like kind of hard be­cause all the good places, like the re­ally, re­ally cheap places, have al­ready been taken be­cause it’s so late in the game,” she noted.

Most stu­dents start lin­ing up next year’s hous­ing in Oc­to­ber, and some even spent sev­eral nights camped out­side of Lang Devel­op­ment Group’s leas­ing of­fice to en­sure they would get their choice of apart­ments.

Kiera John­son said she has liked liv­ing in the tow­ers and was con­sid­er­ing re­turn­ing next year or get­ting an apart­ment at the Univer­sity Court­yard. Look­ing ahead to next year, there’s some un­cer­tainty.

“I just don’t know yet if I’’m go­ing to be in the dorms again in­stead of apart­mentstyle be­cause there’s not enough room in the Court­yards, so we just don’t know yet,” she said.

The clo­sure also put Eric Siver­son in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion.

“Well, where do I go from here?” he said. “I can’t af­ford off-cam­pus liv­ing be­cause it’s too ex­pen­sive. So I’m just look­ing at other places right now.”

The con­di­tion of the tow­ers is poor, some stu­dents noted.

Lee said her room was flooded be­cause of an air con­di­tion­ing vent, and Bryanna Lisiewski said the floor above her was leak­ing some sort of liq­uid. She said that fa­cil­i­ties staff didn’t tell her what it was, but cleaned it up and

told her to keep an eye on it and gave her a clean­ing spray to use.

Dana Burne­jko de­scribed con­di­tions as “a lit­tle rough,” not­ing that at least one of the el­e­va­tors in her tower is al­most al­ways bro­ken, but said that she did love aspects about the tow­ers.

Jackie Fitzula con­sid­ers the tow­ers, and their con­di­tion, a step­ping stone after liv­ing in James Smith Hall, a tra­di­tional dorm, last year.

“I feel like it’s part of the col­lege process,” she said, adding that she has had is­sues with get­ting hot wa­ter.

With the clo­sure also came the con­cern of mold. Emails sent to res­i­dents of the East Tower in­di­cated that hu­mid­ity was a press­ing con­cern and re­quired the use of de­hu­mid­i­fiers to com­bat mold growth.

In Oc­to­ber, the is­sues con­tin­ued.

“There’s been like a few kids on my floor who have had mold. So I know that it’s a big prob­lem,” Burne­jko, a res­i­dent as­sis­tant in the tower, said. “The fa­cil­i­ties [staff] are re­ally nice and will wash their clothes, or wash what­ever has to be fixed.”

Lisiewski noted there was white mold on the car­pet and chairs through­out the East Tower.

“Es­pe­cially like a month ago, it was at its worst point,” she said, not­ing that fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled the de­hu­mid­i­fiers around that time. She said she has mold growth un­der one of her rugs.

Kerwin, the UD spokesman, said that the tow­ers

don’t pose a health threat to stu­dents or staff.

“Any sit­u­a­tions that have arisen have been ad­dressed promptly by staff from Res­i­dence Life & Hous­ing, Fa­cil­i­ties Main­te­nance & Op­er­a­tions and the UD Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health and Safety,” he said. “Staff from those units con­tinue to work reg­u­larly to ad­dress any rel­e­vant is­sues to the univer­sity’s hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties, as well as safety con­sid­er­a­tions per­tain­ing to all ex­ist­ing and fu­ture hous­ing ar­range­ments for our cam­pus com­mu­nity.”

He added that sev­eral stu­dents were dis­placed for a few hours for re­me­di­a­tion work, and that was “one in­stance where stu­dents were tem­po­rar­ily re­lo­cated for four days due to that work, but there were no in­stances of stu­dents be­ing re­quired to move out on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.”

Even with the con­cerns, some stu­dents were nos­tal­gic for the build­ings.

“I’ll miss them; I’ll miss­ing liv­ing up high off the ground,” Burne­jko said.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY BROOKE SCHULTZ

The Chris­tiana Tow­ers, two 17-story apart­ment-style dor­mi­to­ries on UD’s Laird Cam­pus, were sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion in 2023 or 2024 fol­low­ing the con­struc­tion of a new res­i­dence hall on South Col­lege Av­enue, but the univer­sity an­nounced last month the dorms will close at the end of this aca­demic year.

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