Wrecking ball could be coming for some UI apartments

BY ZHANRAN ZHAO | JUNE 15, 2009 7:26 AM

On June 12, 2008, a classmate told graduate student Erin Barnes she had to evacuate her Hawkeye Court apartment by 4 p.m. the next day. She packed her bags and left, along with all other Hawkeye Court residents displaced by the flood.

Seventy-six of them never moved back to their homes. And on June 12, 2009, UI officials decided to demolish those apartments that have sat empty for a year. University Housing, along with Facilities Management — the university’s main representative on the project — will be responsible for overseeing the demolition.

Pending approval from the state Board of Regents, Von Stange, the director of University Housing, said he hopes that section “won’t be there anymore” in the next 12 months, though no definite demolition date has been set.

The flood swamped the first-floor units in the 301 to 376 section with 3 to 12 inches of water.
But Federal Emergency Management Agency authorities said the units did not suffer damages equivalent to 50 percent of the cost to replace the building — the minimum required for government-funded rebuilding. While agency officials offered to provide part of the funding to renovate the apartments, UI officials decided to demolish the units.

It would be more cost-effective to tear them down, Stange said. Though he did not know how much the demolition could cost overall, Stange said FEMA will likely pay for 90 percent of those expenses.

The Hawkeye Court apartments are located on the West Side of campus, near the Hawk Lot and not far from Second Street in Coralville, an area that saw extensive damage in the flood.

All of the units in 301-376 were flooded at ground level. The second-floor apartments also suffered damage, mainly from wet walls, which could cause air-quality issues because of trapped water in the cinder blocks, Stange said.

Barnes’ apartment, which is on the second-floor, was unaffected, though it was in the predicted flood path and could have sustained the same damage the units that may be demolished suffered.

According to an official notice, tenants had six hours to notify the University Apartments Office if they wanted alternative housing on campus.

Some students moved to Hillcrest, Parklawn, and the nearby Hawkeye Drive Apartments.

All residents — except those in units 300 to 376 — could have returned in 10 days. Some residents terminated their leases after the evacuation, but Barnes decided to stay. She lives in the same unit as before the flood, mostly for convenience.

“It’s too complicated to move out,” she said.

No numbers were available as to how many students, like Barnes, kept their leases.

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