Townhouses remain closed, reopening unknown
Sam Tapper – Editor-in-Chief
The Pine Rock Townhouses have been sitting vacant just off campus vacant for almost an entire school year, after the property was abruptly shut down in August due to financial struggles as a result of the pandemic.
In the memo sent out to tenants in August — of which I was a recipient — PR Student Housing LLC said they would be “shutting down our apartment complex until such time as things return to normal,” outlining their hopes to reopen once the end of the pandemic comes. However, the end of the pandemic is more of an idea or mindset than it is an exact date, and it is unclear what the plan is for the townhouses during the 2021-22 academic year.
All 30-plus units sit empty on the property with the gate closed and locked, but the advertising banner still hangs on the front of the building facing Pine Rock Avenue, and flyers advertising the apartments remain stapled to power line poles along the sidewalk towards North Campus.
Yet their Facebook page, aptly named “Rock Pine,” has been silent since August of 2019, signifying no public plan of reopening for next year at this time. At this point, we must wonder if apartments which have been tenantless for, potentially, two years or more is safe and smart.
I was a tenant in Pine Rock for two years, ultimately until the pandemic sent us all home, so I have seen all the good, the bad and the ugly these apartments had to offer. I enjoyed my time there and they were nice enough, but even when they were fully operational, rodents and bugs ran wild throughout the buildings. My unit never had much of a problem with mice, but our neighbors constantly reported them.
Not to mention, these units will require a load of maintenance if they reopen — maintenance the current management does not have. It took me over a month to get a towel rack replaced, and all they did was drill the bar into a piece of plywood which was then drilled into the wall. It was to no fault of the maintenance man they had. His name was Al and he had to be in his 60s, but regular maintenance was a lot for him. How would he be able to pull all this off?
All the units’ appliances will have sat untouched for over a year, no water has been run and no doors or windows opened for air to filter through. I remember when I went to officially move my belongings out of there for good; the toilets were low on water, but the water that remained was black. That was just from a few weeks of being idle. I can only imagine what they look like now.
I have my own thoughts on what will become of my old residence, because I do not believe you will see this place open back up again. The memo sent out had said management attempted to partner with the university before closing and the university said no.
Initially I had questioned the move, because the property could be a valuable asset to Residence Life. But then I remembered all my dealings with the management.
My long-term prediction — with absolutely no insider knowledge — is that Pine Rock will eventually shut down for good and the property will be sold, with the university as a potential buyer. Rather than try to restore an already lost life, the current buildings, including my old apartment, will be demolished and replaced with what could be used as a graduate school housing.
This likely will not happen due to the pandemic’s effect on enrollment, housing and the budget, but the apartment style Pine Rock offers is something the university claims to have as well, but really does not. By expanding campus by a few feet, graduate students are given the chance to live in their first apartment, but still be on campus and connected.
At the very least, I do not believe we will be seeing the apartments leased to students again as it currently stands. And until something changes, the buildings will continue to rot away, empty.
Photo credit: Sam Tapper