The Plaza on University only opened its doors to residents two weeks ago, but some students are far from settled in their new homes.
The new apartment complex, located on the corner of Alafaya Trail and University Boulevard, started allowing students to move in as scheduled before school started. However, many residents are reporting that the buildings and apartments are anything but finished.
Gage Satmary is one such student affected by the delay.
"[Building] 300 was the building that was behind schedule, [in] which [case] we would have been placed in a hotel. But last minute, they said to begin moving in to the apartment," said Satmary, a junior legal studies major. "My backyard is a construction site currently."
When Satmary moved in to his apartment, he said he found a number of unfinished touches and damages, including a busted window, beer cans in his toilet and paint on the carpet. He also said the complex seemed to have run out of lights for his apartment and a router was hanging from the ceiling.
"They are still doing finishing touches in all buildings, though," Satmary said. "They don't have gates yet, [or] garbage chutes, [the] pool, volleyball, [and so on.]"
The complex, owned by American Campus Communities, received its certificate of occupancy on Aug. 15, allowing students to move-in.
However, Meg LeDon, a junior majoring in biology and journalism, said that while her friend who lives at the Plaza was showing her around, she observed that much of the complex has yet to be finished.
"If you go to the Plaza, it seems that there are more construction workers than students, but it's also a 'hard hat' zone in many places that students walk though," LeDon said. "Workers let themselves in daily to fix things, especially for the students that are already living there. The rest of the buildings look rushed and they aren't completely finished, but they are livable."
LeDon said her friend's apartment seemed to be better off than others, calling it "finished but not completed."
"They needed minor work like hanging mirrors and screwing everything in. Some mirrors were only screwed in with two screws on the top and they need all four," she said. "My other friend said her mirrors and things were the same [way], but additionally there is saw[dust] or drywall dust and their washers/dryers don't work."
In an email from the Plaza on University to residents on July 30, the complex announced that certain apartments may not be ready in time for scheduled move-in dates.
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"We are committed to providing you with quality accommodations and the highest level of customer service. That commitment begins with open and candid communication," the email stated.
The email sent out cited Orlando's above-average rainfall levels in the past year as the primary reason for the delay in completion of construction.
In the same email, residents were informed that should their apartments not be complete by Aug. 16, the complex would compensate for the delay.
"If your apartment is not complete on Aug. 16, we will provide you with temporary hotel accommodations, parking, storage, moving assistance, a meal allowance and credit your first installment payment," the email stated.
While Satmary's apartment was cleared for occupancy, he still wishes things would have turned out differently.
"I would rather take a hotel room, and they can give me $650 back for this month," Satmary said.
LeDon added that in spite of all the issues residents have experienced, each individual's situation differs.
"A girl I talked to on campus today said that the reason she was staying in a hotel was because their apartment flooded after they moved in and flooded once more, and the Plaza is paying for their hotel ... they are paying for storage and the damages/ruined items that were lost in the flood. She said the situation sucks but the Plaza is doing more than she thought they would be doing to help," LeDon said.
Some students have taken to creating a petition on the website change.org. The petition is directed at Plaza on University employees Amber Kenney, Paulina Black and Matthew Mechlin and demands that residents' August rent be waived.
"When we payed our respective dues for the month of August to Plaza on University, it was because we would get to use the amenities, live in the comfort of our apartment and have a pleasant experience," the petition states.
The petition, which had 129 signatures at the time of publication, charges that residents had to pay the full rent fee for the month of August, despite not having access to the pools, elevators not working, staircases closed and fire alarms went off in the early morning hours, among other issues.
"Everyone who thinks we deserve this month's rent waived should sign this petition and hopefully get Plaza's attention, since they keep dismissing every complaint they get," the petition states.
The Plaza on University declined to comment on this issue, and calls to its corporate office were not answered.