UI to raze Hawkeye Court in next five years

BY ARIANA WITT | APRIL 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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Moussa Fall’s dimly lit, two-bedroom apartment is a cramped space. Boxes from the post office sit on his couch, and his students’ assignments are piled on top of a tiny wooden desk next to canned food.

The University of Iowa teaching assistant in French and Italian pointed to numerous structural problems in his family’s Hawkeye Court apartment, while his wife prepared tea and their baby slept in the bedroom.

“Look, we have to have a towel on the floor because it is always wet,” Fall said. “The heater barely works.”

He pointed out spots of mold on the floor boards and the ceiling.

“They really should just tear them down,” Fall said about the university-owned apartments.

That could be a possibility, UI officials said.

For now, the only thing that’s certain is that Hawkeye Court apartments will not exist within five years, said UI Housing Director Von Stange.

University Housing officials are planning to do one of three things after tearing down the 503-unit complex: build new apartments using UI funds, partner with a company to build university-owned apartments, or not rebuild any apartments at the site.

“We are looking to new options currently but haven’t made any decisions beyond that,” Stange said.
University Housing has partnered with the Scion Group, a Chicago organization focused on corporate and educational real estate, to survey current residents.

The company’s website says it has completed projects on more than 90 campuses worldwide, including Drake University and the UI. The university hasn’t signed a contract with the firm, Stange said.

Housing officials sent the survey by e-mail to Hawkeye Court residents approximately two months ago, asking them what amenities they’re looking for and how much they’re willing to pay in the future for improvements.

Fall said he indicated that he was willing to increase his rent up to $650 a month. Now he pays roughly $450.

“It’s market analysis and cost estimates focused on what would be best for people,” Stange said. “Money from renters helps guide what is done as far as fixing the apartments.”

But Stange said officials don’t think it would be sensible to pour more money in the complex, which was built in 1966. So instead, they’re working on other alternatives, such as the survey, that would better benefit the units and their residents, he said.

While Stange said he couldn’t comment on when his office would have survey results, he said the next steps would include speaking with other university officials before making any construction plans.

Some Hawkeye Court residents said they hope those decisions will come later, rather than sooner.

“I hope they at least wait until I graduate,” said Meng Li, a second-year UI graduate student from China. “It would be so difficult for me to find an apartment this cheap off campus.”

University Apartments manager Helen Baker said a large number of Hawkeye Court residents are international.

Stange said current residents shouldn’t worry about moving just yet.

“Five years is a long ways away and includes a new generation of students,” he said.

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