UCF students who recently moved into the Plaza on University are describing the new off campus complex as an active construction zone and have created a petition in hopes of being refunded their first month’s rent.
Students say they are plagued with banging, sawing and drilling from 7 a.m. until about 7 p.m. everyday because of the incomplete housing facility, which charges residents $649 a month. They also say that many of the amenities they were promised when signing their leases aren’t complete and available for use.
“Due to above normal precipitation over the last 12 months, Plaza on University experienced construction delays which prevented our contractors from completing all of the outdoor amenities before move-in,” Plaza spokesperson Gina Cowart said. “We do expect all outdoor amenity spaces to be completed in the next few weeks.”
Cowart went on to say that residents would be getting giftcards for the inconvenience of the delays.
“We sincerely apologize for the delay and have offered $150 in gift cards ($100 of which will be distributed on Tuesday) to each resident for the short term inconvenience. Our staff is working tirelessly to make sure our residents are comfortable in their units and enjoying the clubhouse and we ask for their continued patience as we finish out the exterior amenity space,” Cowart said.
The complex describes their new housing facility on their websites as being “the best in Orlando student living!” The website also says: “At Plaza on University you will have the privacy and lifestyle you deserve in an off campus student community that is built specifically with you, the college student, in mind.
Danyela Rojas, a sophomore majoring in computer science, says that her experience with the complex has been far from the best in Orlando. She signed her lease in November 2013 with the assurance that construction would be completed.
“The inside of my apartment might be finished, but were paying for the complex,” Rojas said. “The pools aren’t completed, the volleyball court is nonexistent, the elevators break down and the stairwells are constantly locked.”
Rojas said the complex emailed her on Aug. 1 telling her that her room might not be ready for move in, and they would pay for a hotel in the meantime along with comping August’s rent.
“We didn’t know we could move in until 9 a.m. of the morning of move in,” Rojas said.
Rojas is currently looking for a student to sublease her apartment at the Plaza on University to relieve her stress with the apartment complex.
Many of the students Knight News talked to got these same emails about their unfinished rooms and were surprised when the complex informed them that they were going to be moving in, despite the active construction around the complex.
“For almost two weeks before my move in date they kept sending me emails saying that my apartment was identified as one that would not be completed in time,” Abigail Farago, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, said. “They said they would put us in Double Tree until they finished, comp us a months rent, give us $30 a day for food and pay for movers. Then come the morning of my move in day, which started at 9:30 a.m., they emailed me at 9 a.m. saying I could actually move in to my apartment.”
Farago said she was shocked when she got to see her new home and room.
“There were lights missing, a construction crew in my actual apartment installing things still when I moved in, our fridge is missing shelving, our air conditioner doesn’t work properly, the place was filthy from the construction and we were told a cleaning crew would come and they never did,” Farago said. “The entire place looks like it was thrown together.”
A few residents have even reported getting locked inside of the complex’s stairwell and elevators in the midst of the construction site.
Some students say they knew what they were getting into when they signed the lease for the unfinished complex and are understanding about the situation, but others are resorting to legal measures and a petition asking for reimbursement on August’s rent.
Residents told Knight News that the Plaza on University isn’t communicating properly to residents about the construction status and hasn’t addressed many of their complaints to the leasing office. The petition for reimbursement of August’s rent is below.
When we payed our respective dues for the month of August to Plaza on University, it was because we would get to use the amenities, live in the comfort of our apartment and have a pleasant experience.
However, it was the opposite. We still had to pay FULL price regardless that we didn’t have use of any of the pools, there was construction everywhere, elevators not working, staircases closed, furniture unfinished, waking up to construction workers, fire alarms going off in the AM, no stores open, dust everywhere, and many more individual horror stories.
Plaza took the initiative to give everyone a $50 gift card, which is equivalent to about 3 days of rent.. what about the remaining weeks we still have to endure with construction and without using the full facilities?
Everyone who thinks we deserve this months rent waived should sign this petition and hopefully get Plaza’s attention since they keep dismissing every complaint they get.
– Unhappy Plaza Residents
The Plaza on University began leasing apartments in October of 2013 on their 60,000 square feet piece on land on the corner of University Blvd and Alafaya Trail. The apartment complex wasn’t completed at the time but was set to be completed this fall.
Several retail outlets and restaurants are still scheduled to open beneath the complex.
Photos by Nick Russett