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Housing may see overhaul

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday November 15, 2002

While Residence Life is considering getting rid of two of its apartments, it is going to buy a sorority house that is likely to house freshman girls.

Residence Life will be able to break its lease for Palm Shadows, 1816 E. Helen St., and its lease with Sky View Apartments, 1050 E. Eighth St., will expire after this year.

It is bound by long-term leases, however, with Babcock Inn, 1717 E. Speedway Blvd., and Corleone Apartments, 1330 N. Park Ave.

In addition to being unpopular with residents, Residence Life is losing money on the rentals, said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

"I think what I would say at this point is that we are looking at the relative popularity of apartments and affordability, and looking at net costs, which is clearly a loss of money," he said.

For two people, each of the Residence Life apartments cost $4,700 per academic year, except for Babcock Inn, which costs $3,001.

"Palm Shadows is really old, dilapidated," said Tara Abbott, a pre-business freshman who lives in Palm Shadows. "The carpet is destroyed and there is a couch that is really run down. I guess we don't have the true Internet, not T3 or whatever, so it's really slow."

In its September meeting, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the UA's request for permission to purchase the Sigma Kappa sorority house, 1125 N. Vine Ave., for $1.4 million, with the money it made from selling the Christopher City apartments lot. The Christopher City apartments, at 3401 N. Columbus Blvd., was the UA's graduate housing complex until it was closed in 2001 because of toxic mold.

Once the building is no longer the Sigma Kappa house, Residence Life will place freshman girls in the building. The Sigma Kappa house is the last non-UA building on the block, according to information from the board of regents.

What is now Pima Hall, 1340 E. First St., once housed a Greek chapter.

The site identified for Sigma Kappa's new home is a 1512 E. First St., beside the new Learning Services building. The University Village Area Plan, approved by the Board of Regents in 1992, stipulated that student organizations relocate to that area.

Brian Griffin, a pre-business freshman who lives in Babcock Inn, said he likes the community of the apartments that Residence Life provides, particularly for freshmen.

"I think they're good for first-year students," Griffin said. "I'm from out of state, so it's kind of good to live here. And I like having my own bathroom."

In 2000, Residence Life leased Sky View Apartments for two years. The same year, it renewed leases on Corleone Apartments for 10 years and on Palm Shadows Apartments for two years to combat housing shortages. Additionally, in 1999, the UA sought to purchase Casa Feliz Apartments, 1201 E. Drachman St., but decided against it because of concerns about the neighborhood and criticism that the UA was spreading out too far.

In November 2000, Residence Life offered Sky View residents a release from their rental agreements because of problems they were having. Almost 40 percent took advantage of the opportunity.

"They're not what I expected at all. They were supposed to be a little like a dorm and a little like an apartment, but it is a lot more responsibility; like we have to buy toilet paper," Abbott said. "They do help us out by letting us rent stuff out, though."

Residence Life is looking at eventually closing Hopi Residence Hall, 1440 E. Fourth St., to put in a bigger building, and closing Sierra Residence Hall, 541 N. Cherry Ave.,

a hall underneath the east side of Arizona Stadium.

Though Griffin likes his apartment, he would be OK with Residence Life quitting its leases with the apartments if the UA can accommodate its housing demand.

"As long as they have enough space," Griffin said.

Construction is ongoing at the Highland District Housing at North Highland Drive. The halls scheduled to be completed by Fall 2004 are supposed to provide 760 beds. Plans for the next residence hall to be constructed are still in the works, Van Arsdel said.

The parking lots south of Apache Santa Cruz Residence Hall, 1440 E. Fifth St., and south of Coronado have been mentioned as possible sites for a new hall, Van Arsdel said this summer.

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