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Packed dorms lead UA to area apts.

By Hillary Davis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 9, 1999
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UA Residence Life officials are considering purchasing a campus-area apartment complex to house an overflow of students applying to live in the dorms next semester.

Casa Feliz apartments, 1201 E. Drachman St., could be sold to the University of Arizona for $5.1 million pending Arizona Board of Regents approval on Thursday.

"We can see that, once again, demand for housing on campus will be very high," said James Van Arsdel, Residence Life director. "They (the owners) heard that we were tight on space, and they came to us. We're one community and people talk with each other."

But Van Arsdel was quick to say that UA officials are still brainstorming about Casa Feliz's future, and no plans have been finalized.

He said Residence Life officials would like to see the apartments prepared for students by fall. Their plan, however, requires Regents approval by May - allowing time to convert the complex's 138 units for student use.

"There is a huge amount of preparation that is required for something like this," Van Arsdel said, adding that Residence Life has to buy furniture for student rooms.

The units would immediately be made available to traditional students, but could eventually be used for family housing, Van Arsdel said. The cost of the complex would be absorbed by residents, he said.

"Students who live in the residence halls create the funding for residence halls, " he said.

Still, other factors affecting the university's decision to purchase Casa Feliz revolve around monetary issues. A financial analysis performed by Residence Life and an appraisal of the complex will weigh in the official decision to move forward with plans.

Juanita Biazo, who has lived at Casa Feliz for 19 years, said the complex has been taken over by UA students. The increase in young people - combined with the owner's decision to raise rent - motivated Biazo's decision to move out this summer.

But Biazo said the UA's encroachment only speeds her departure.

"If I wasn't going to move, when that happened I would. I just wouldn't tolerate it" said Biazo, a former UA employee.