After being given only 30 minutes to pack for 10 days, Crest residents are looking back at the last few weeks in awe. More than 40 students were told to evacuate their building Jan. 14 after a partial collapse in the ceiling between the first and second floor because of a "cracked and sagging concrete floor."
Just a few days ago, Elon University sophomore Cally Crocco said she felt “disconnected and I feel kind of in the dark.”
Crocco has been living three miles away from campus in the Best Western Plus Burlington for almost a month, along with the 46 other relocated Crest residents. At this point she said, "We've completely lost hope."
This off-campus living has become the reality for the majority of these students for the rest of the semester.
The Preiss company, owners of the Crest Apartments, told residents of building 2020 on Friday they won’t be moving back in this semester, according to an email obtained by ENN.
Now, instead of moving back in, residents have two options. According to the email, students can either “transfer immediately into an on-campus bed” or “move to an off- campus apartment complex.” The company notes there are “limited” on-campus housing options that will be granted on a “first come, first serve basis.”
ENN contacted Residence Life, who rents the apartments in the Crest, for further explanation of the permanent relocation. A Residence Life representative directed ENN to Dan Anderson, vice president for university communications.
Anderson said Elon has 12 apartment spaces available on-campus, and Preiss is working on making an off-campus option available to all 47 students. The company does not specify which off-campus apartment residents would move to, but does note they are “working with two communities right now that are comparable in distance from Elon as Best Western.”
The Burlington Best Western is an 8-minute drive from Elon’s campus, according to Google Maps.
Crocco and her roommates are attempting to find other off-campus apartment options that are closer to campus.
"My roommates and I don’t want to split up," Crocco said. "So we’re either going to stay together and live really far away, or we’re going to split up and spend the rest of the semester pretty miserable."
In a statement to ENN, Sara Clark, vice president of property management for The Preiss Company, said this solution "would be more appropriate" because of the timely repairs. Clark said she did not know the total cost of the damages nor does she know the total hotel costs.
Crocco said she and the other residents have been reimbursed for the cost of rent for January and February, but the residents have not been informed how payment will continue. The relocated students are being reimbursed up to $25 per day to cover food costs, along with extra Uber charges to go to and from campus.
Crest apartment building 2020 was last inspected summer 2017, according to Clark. She said no issues were found.
"We have checked the other buildings," Clark said. "They do not show similar signs of moisture issues like the 2020 building exhibited. That said, we've engaged various engineers & contractors to complete further inspections."
Crocco has expressed frustrations with The Preiss Company and the lack of communication.
"There doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency," Crocco said. "There doesn’t seem to be a sense of deadlines. They’ll say 'We’ll send an email update on Friday,' and then we don’t get an update, and we have to reach out to them. So it’s kind of been this cycle of reaching out to them over and over again, sometimes getting a response, sometimes waiting a few days."
ENN also reached out to The Preiss Company with little to no response, after calling and emailing 12 times during the course of the four weeks since the students were relocated. The company did respond with comments on Feb. 12.
Clark expressed the company had communicated with the students "at least on a weekly basis with any updates available."
"We have dedicated our time to communicating timely with the students, parents, Elon University staff members and contractors."