UA: Relocate Christopher City

By Lisa Heller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Christopher City, the UA's off-campus family housing development, was recommended for relocation in a report compiled by the vice president's Implementation Team on Family Housing.

In a series of three reports completed in August, the team examined Christopher City, 3401 N. Columbus Blvd., and focused on improving family housing for University of Arizona students. The team concentrated on providing alternatives to the current Christopher City program, with the chief value of bringing students into the mainstream of university life.

"We would like to provide Christopher City with the services that students receive on campus," said Saundra Taylor, vice president of Student Affairs.

"Married couples without children don't necessarily have to be with residents who have children," Taylor said. "This makes it more reasonable to find land."

The report recommends three possible relocation sites: south of East Sixth Street, near Coronado Residence Hall and near the Main Gate Building.

Christopher City was built 36 years ago and originally was designed as a senior housing community. The UA bought the family housing complex in 1969. Residents of Christopher City encounter continuous problems as a result of the complex's age.

"Cockroach infestation and sewer backups are the main problems I've run into," said Peter Rajto, resident and higher learning Ph.D. student. "The roach problem is gone for the most part, but the sewer problem isn't going away. But the residents are aware of the problem and now know how to handle it if it happens."

Some problems have been corrected, but because of the cost, not all repairs have been fixed.

"It has a very worn, weathered look to it. It's in a state of decline that's hard to correct," Taylor said.

The major repairs Christopher City still needs are being deferred, excluding repairs that are health- and safety-related.

"We have problems with the plumbing and electrical systems," said Martha Castleberry, manager of family housing. "A lot of parts are obsolete; if something breaks, residents might have to wait to get it fixed."

Christopher City residents should expect an increase in rent if the new site is built. Fifty-one percent of the residents who responded to a task force poll said they disagreed with a rent inflation. However, most residents understand it is necessary.

"The increase will still be competitive with Tucson apartments, but it is not financially feasible for it to stay the same," Taylor said.

The team focused on finding solutions that emphasized services catering to family needs, transportation, using energy-efficient appliances, and providing services where on-site management and maintenance costs can be lowered.

The implementation team recommended that the complex be university-operated, organized by the Residence Life Department so that it is similar physically, organizationally and financially to UA residence halls.

All recommendations from the task force will go to a program team to create a request for proposal guidelines for independent contractors to bid on the project. "If all goes as scheduled, we hope to move residents in by January of 1998," Taylor said.

The task force emphasized the need for good schools and a nice community area for the new site.

"Our concern is first for the families with children, and second for married couples," Taylor said. "But we intend to do both."

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