When the news broke at the start of this semester that student apartment complex Sol y Luna was at risk of being shut down for code violations, Tanner Johnson was hardly surprised. Having lived in Luna for all of last school year, he knew the sorts of issues that were affecting residents.
During his time at Luna, Johnson dealt with missing packages, a lack of hot water and poor security, all for a high price. Johnson, a junior studying geosciences, also had negative experiences with the complex’s management.
“I really did not have the best experience there,” Johnson said. “The management was horrible. It was throughout the whole year. They were constantly rude, very disrespectful. They undermined us and treated us differently because we were so young, and it was very obvious that that was the case.”
Johnson said he still has friends living at Sol y Luna, and the difficulties continue.
“They don’t deserve to be living in that quality of service,” Johnson said.
Though Sol y Luna has garnered a negative reputation, they’re not the only culprits. The area west of campus is chock-full of high-rise apartments, which are ideal in location but come with distinct disadvantages.
“Everyone knows that the apartments are unsafe and not up to standard for certain things in the building,” Johnson said. “I think they should be held accountable.”
Natalie Franzese, a junior studying psychology, lived at the Hub last year, located at 1011 N. Tyndall Ave. She had problems there, too.
“When me and my roommate first moved in, in the beginning of the year, our apartment was not clean at all,” Franzese said. “I had mold in my shower, our floors literally turned our feet black, there was still garbage in there from the previous tenants.”
She also said that garbage piled up into the hallways and the elevators were frequently not working. Franzese also has friends at Luna and has seen everything from shattered windows to missing doors to fire alarms ripped off of the walls while visiting.
Franzese said she did like the manager and front desk workers at the Hub, but the conditions made it so she wouldn’t want to live there again.
The Hub recently transitioned to a new name and brand, and is known as Yugo now. Students living at Yugo this year still complained of poor security and unclean conditions.
Alyse Kelly, a sophomore studying environmental science, has had a mixed experience.
“It was just dirty when we moved in,” Kelly said. “Other than that, everything works.”
Kelly lives with Lauren Nachman, a sophomore double majoring in fashion industry science & technology and Italian.
“It has the same things that go wrong as all the other high-rises, but some of them are way more expensive than here,” Nachman said.
Kelly and Nachman said that management originally gave away their apartment to someone else after they had signed their lease.
“They know they can get money out of these college kids, so they don’t care,” Kelly said.
While the high-rise apartments have accumulated a poor reputation, the problems aren’t distributed equally. Franzese, for instance, now lives at Aspire, on 950 N. Tyndall Ave., and praised the complex’s efficiency and cleanliness.
Annelise Counter lives at Oliv this year, located at 900 E. 2nd St. Counter is a junior studying nursing, and this is her first year at Oliv, where her move-in experience was not all she hoped for.
“I was a little surprised to see that there were some things that were not up to standards when we moved in,” Counter said. “Our couch had some pretty large rips in it; there were paint chips everywhere, the floor still has some weird divots in it.”
Fortunately, Counter said that maintenance was able to fix most of these issues shortly after move-in.
Counter acknowledged that part of the problem is previous tenants treating their rooms poorly and causing damage, but still sees flaws in the way that these high-rise buildings are run.
“I think they are put up really fast in order to accommodate a larger student population, and then in putting them up so fast, there are little areas that don't get finished properly, or it's not the highest quality,” Counter said.
Another feature of these apartments is high prices. Rent tends to be over $1,000, and many students feel the cost isn’t worthwhile.
“They’re a little overpriced for what it is,” Counter said. “My room is, I’ve been telling my friends, a glorified closet.”
Counter is happy, however, to have her own bedroom for the first time in college. She also enjoys the convenience of the location being right near campus, though she has learned she needs to allot extra time in the morning because the elevators at Oliv are so slow.
Julia Kossmann, a sophomore studying biochemistry, was less positive about her experience. Though she just began living at Oliv a few weeks ago, she said that she’s already had difficulties and probably wouldn’t want to live there for another school year.
“They put me and my roommates in the wrong apartment,” Kossmann said. “We were supposed to be in a unit with a terrace and there wasn’t one, not that I care about that, but it’s like that’s what we signed on.”
Katy Darnaby, a spokesperson from Core Spaces, the company which owns Oliv, stated via email that they “received very positive feedback about [their] move-in experience.”
The statement continued, “We posted signs throughout the property in high traffic areas and hallways with details on how to text us for immediate help with any issues or questions on move-in day. We are always looking for ways to innovate the moving experience and work to make the experience as easy as possible. For students looking to speak with management, our community office hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Our management team can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Front desk workers at Yugo stated that management wouldn’t want them to speak to the media.
Tanner Johnson places the blame for these issues on higher-ups, acknowledging that most of the easily-accessible workers are students who aren’t equipped to deal with major issues. The complexes are usually run by national or international companies with little actual involvement in Tucson.
“They feel like they can get away with kind of doing the bare minimum, just because we’re college students,” Johnson said.
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