Prime Place's 'construction delays' send U students packing to find last-minute housing

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Last week, students discovered their housing for the fall semester wouldn't be ready until December.

Trevor Wolf's 40-minute commute from Jordan to the University of Minnesota over the summer always ended with a little perk. The 19-year-old passed Prime Place Apartments. The route afforded him a firsthand progress report of the complex where he and three roommates would live this upcoming semester.

Although the 195-unit building was in the throes of construction, the four sophomores signed a lease for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in February. The rental agreement stipulated the unit would be move-in ready in September.

This was to be their first time living off-campus. Rent was decent, $500 per person, which included all utilities save for electricity. 

But the would-be tenants received bad news last week. Prime Place management said their apartment wouldn't be ready until the end of December. In an email, management blamed "construction delays" and said opening portions of the sprawling complex were being postponed "until next semester."

The four men had two options. They could either terminate their lease early while receiving their entire security deposit back. Or they could choose to delay the start of their lease until December and rent would be reduced by 30 percent.

But the University's Legal Services advised them to search for a better deal, which is exactly what they got. Wolf's crew found a similar spread at 7 West Apartment Homes. Prime Place is paying the additional cost of rent and is likely to pay for miscellaneous relocation expenses the men will encounter, like application and move-in fees.

"The management over at Prime Place has been cool about everything, and it's not their fault," Wolf says. "I blame the owners. I have no sympathy for them. They made a mistake and went back on their word. They knew this wasn't getting done on time two months ago. They knew this a long time ago."

Developer Elsey Partners is owned by Chris Elsey. The company is based in Manhattan, Kansas and has built similar projects in other college student heavy areas like Stillwater, Oklahoma and Lincoln, Nebraska.

Elsey's Prime Place woes are not the first.

The company built brand-new apartments in Lincoln that opened in 2015. Tenants moved in to find dust and construction debris, with some units unfinished. Messages left for Elsey Thursday were not returned.

 


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