by Elise McGlothian
After more than five weeks of living like nomads, some UNC students may finally be able to move into their Chapel Hill apartments next week. The students signed leases for LUX at Central Park, a new upscale complex on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. But, they were unable to move in because of construction delays.
“Well my room is full of boxes, and they’re stacked against the wall and under the bed.”
Benjamin Smart is a junior in UNC’s School of Public Health. When he signed his lease for LUX Apartments in the spring, he didn’t imagine sharing a Carmichael dorm room and still needing to unpack five weeks into the fall semester.
“To be honest, I expected to be in my apartment by now,” Smart said. “You know, being stuck in a dorm has really hindered my study habits and my lifestyle that I’m use to living.”
LUX developers, in an email, blamed the delays on several issues outside of the contractor’s control, but did not specify what those issues are. LUX expects residents will be in their apartments by the end of next week.
The situation has cost LUX a lot of money. Before placing students into residence halls, Lux paid them to live in hotels, provided them with laundry and shuttle transportation and movers. Currently, LUX is paying students $400 a week in gift cards while they live on-campus and paying UNC for the rooms.
But that doesn’t make the situation any easier for Global Studies major Courtney Turner, another displaced LUX resident living on-campus. Nearly six hours away from her hometown in Georgia, she left most of her belongings at home.
“So, it’s just really difficult, and I’m not really set up to live in a dorm, so it’s just all very bare,” Turner said. “I don’t have little things like a shower caddy. I had to buy bedding and all that stuff kind of quickly. I just wasn’t really prepared.”
Turner said LUX has been sending notifications to residents about the status of their apartments, but she is still unhappy.
“I think they could give us an update everyday, and it still wouldn’t feel like enough when you’re not living there,” Turner said.
The delay has not only inconvenienced students – it has also inconvenienced the university. Coordinator for Housing Assignments Steven Wiley says UNC rushed housing placements to accommodate the displaced students.
“The assignment process for all of the LUX residents was a random process just because of the timeline we had to assign these students,” Wiley said. “We only had a couple of hours to actually make their assignments. We were given a list of about 380 students, so it took up almost every single space we had on campus.”
Down the hill to LUX apartments, sprinklers water the grass on one side while mud lines the other. The apartments, for the most part, appear to be done, but construction containers and hay, instead of grass, surround the buildings. Bulldozers and other construction vehicles are in the back of the apartments.
LUX resident, Ben Grant, moved in two weeks ago.
“Now that we’re in, it’s been great,” Grant said. “You can kind of tell that they rushed us to get in, like this hallway smells a little bit like paint, but as far as the quality of our apartment, it’s definitely what we were expecting. There’s definitely not any flaws as far as we can tell.”
But for the other students who thought they would be living off-campus, like Smart, they can’t wait to get settled into their apartments.
“It’s cost me a lot of time and unnecessary stress having to move my things several times, and I’m still not even unpacked,” Smart said. “I feel pretty disorganized right now.
But for Smart and other residents, the stress may soon be over. In an email to residents this week, LUX officials said they’re confident apartments will be ready by Friday.