U Lofts Fails Inspection, Leaving Tech Students In Hotels - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/28/07

U Lofts Fails Inspection, Leaving Tech Students In Hotels

More than 130 Texas Tech students are staying in hotels Tuesday, after the building they were supposed to move into failed its city inspection. City inspectors say U Lofts in the 1000 block of University is simply not safe at this time.

The building used to be the University Plaza and has been under renovation for the last year and a half. NewsChannel 11 has tracked down the Florida developer, city inspectors and students to find out what the problems are.

Instead of walking into his new U Loft condo, Texas Tech sophomore Franklin Mitchem is heading back to a hotel room.

"It's kinda messed up because it's like kids living in a hotel, trying to go to school. They're not settled in yet," Mitchem said.

 To compensate students like Mitchem, U Lofts developer Dean Minardi is picking up the tab.

"We're paying $10,000 a day to keep people in hotels, but it's the least we can do," Minardi said.

Mitchem's lease was set for August 19th. "But they kept moving the move in date back," added Mitchem.

On Friday, city code inspectors gave developers another setback, saying the building wasn't up to code.

"They did ask us to come in and take a look at it, to see if it was close enough for approval and we just simple determined it wasn't," said Lubbock's Chief Building Official, Steve O'Neal.

So what is the problem? Well, the city says it comes down to electrical and fire alarm issues. And to resolve the problems Minardi has brought in a specialty crew to make sure everything is up to code.

Jerry Rodriguez is U Lofts' Facility Engineer. On Tuesday, he spent the day going through a two page list of things to fix given to him by the city. Rodriguez says he checking, "some electrical plates, smoke detectors, making sure safety stuff is in place."

"We know the protocol before we did it. We went and changed out fire heads and everything else. Every jurisdiction interprets... has leeway to interpret codes," said Minardi.

O'Neal adds, "They feel like they'll be ready for another inspection tomorrow (Wednesday). So we're planning on setting aside what every resource is necessary to go out there and work with them and see in fact if it's ready."

Minardi says they planned on three days of rain during construction but ended up with 33, which slowed them down. He does assure NewsChannel 11 that they are ready for Wednesday's inspection and expect students to start moving in Thursday.

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