Emporia State Apartments at 1201 Triplett Dr. will close at the end of the summer semester as a part of a multimillion-dollar residential living project to upgrade and renovate the ESU residence halls.
The decision, which was announced to student residents on March 6, came as a shock, and some are not pleased.
“I was not happy when I found out about it. I was really angry,” said Brittany Riggs, senior rehabilitation services major. “I felt like they could have told us sooner. I felt like telling us two months before school is out was really crappy.”
The closure of the complex was decided in January, said Ray Hauke, vice president of Administration and Fiscal Affairs, and the university doesn’t plan to open a new off-campus apartment building.
“(ESU Apartments) haven’t been very popular,” Hauke said. “The occupancy has been pretty low. It’s costing more to operate them, and in the survey we did last fall it’s not an area the students are finding very popular to live in. It’s a couple of blocks away (and) students living in the apartments kind of want to live closer. So those are the reasons why that’s been phased out.”
There are 96 units in the complex, said Lynn Hobson, associate vice president for Student Life, in a news release. It was built in the early 1960s when the trend was for universities to provide “married student housing.” Currently, the Office of Residential Life has contracts with 79 residents.
Takayoshi Shimono, an MBA student who’s lived in the ESU Apartments for two years and planned to live there until he graduated, said he was upset when he was told he needed to move out and find a new apartment. But he said he is unable to find an apartment, even though he went to the housing fair offered by the university.
It was also hard for Riggs to find an apartment that she could afford since she plans to have a baby next year. To find a better apartment before it was too late, she signed up for the Park View Apartments soon after the notification, which will cost her an extra $900 for living expenses every semester.
“I agree that the apartments need to be upgraded and repaired,” Riggs said, “but if they are willing to put money into another project, why aren’t they willing to put money into just repairing and upgrading the apartment building that is already there? Plus, they put a lot of money into the Union as well. There was a lot of families there – that’s their home, especially for people that couldn’t afford somewhere else.”
The residential living project will begin with the renovation of the Singular and Trusler complexes as its first phase, according to Hauke. The university did not have the money to renovate Singular and Trusler when it had renovated Towers in 2005.
The first phase will take two years and cost about $5.3 million, Hauke said. Singular and Trusler will be remodeled into suites, combining three bedrooms into one suite. Each will have two bedrooms and one living room, with individual showers and restrooms.
The second phase is to make an assessment of Morse Hall, Hauke said. The choices are either a large-scale renovation of Morse Hall or replacing it with other units that might be constructed on the east side of campus, which will cost about $15 million.