In 2017, Trinity purchased City Vista. Since then, students have found a number of issues with the apartment complex. Some students haven’t had better luck.
According to Elizabeth Bertsch — junior and former resident at City Vista — in early September, she and her roommates began to experience leaks in their apartment that became worse over time.
“At the worst point, we [had] eight leaks in our apartment, a sagging ceiling, water running through our ceiling fan — which short circuited the electricity a few times — and water running through the smoke detector system, which caused the alarms to sound only in our apartment at 4 a.m. one morning,” Bertsch said.
Despite following the protocol for service requests numerous times and contacting a number of supervisors, Bertsch said that City Vista made no repairs and gave no explanations about the situation, which continued to escalate.
“We were living with trash cans everywhere to catch the water. The trash cans would fill up relatively quickly, and we’d dump them around the clock. The dripping was so loud it would keep us up at night,” Bertsch said.
According to Bertsch, a member of Facilities Services eventually explained that the fourth floor deck had not been constructed properly, causing water to leak through their ceiling when it rained.
“The ceiling above [them] is not technically a roof. There’s a walking patio above those two units,” said James Baker, director of Facilities Services. “It was a combination of things. First there was a leak, we fixed it, and as it continued to rain, we discovered that wasn’t the only leak and that there were additional areas that needed to be addressed.”
Similar issues had occurred the year before and led to the relocation of students, which City Vista had not disclosed to Bertsch and her roommates when they moved in, according to her. Trinity temporarily relocated them to Verna McLean Residence Hall — with three of them living in a two-bed dorm — as there were no more available rooms at City Vista and repairs had to be delayed due to the continued rain.
“We’re just now able to continue the process of putting the waterproofing back into place,”Baker said. “It’s almost impossible to waterproof when the surface is wet.”
According to Bertsch, Trinity and City Vista began to take concrete action and allowed the students to live off-campus only after her and her roommates’ parents got involved. The trio searched for off-campus housing on their own, in the midst of this semester.
“It was the most stressful time of my Trinity career, and my roommates share that same sentiment,” Bertsch said.
Julia Palmer, senior and City Vista resident, also shared her experiences with her apartment’s issues. She had minor problems when first moving in this fall and major inconveniences with leaks.
“[A] couple of months ago, when [we had] those really heavy rains for a few weeks, my bedroom window started leaking. Leaking, not just a little dribble, but filling up a pan of water. So we texted the [resident advisor], and she got in contact with TUPD, but nothing ever really got fixed,” Palmer said, “And we put in another service request last week when it started raining again because the leak came back. They never came in.”
Palmer recalled her and her roommates’ belongings — such as papers and personal items — being soaked and destroyed. Since then, she resorted to placing a towel across the window sill in case the leaks returned.
According to Silvia Villareal, TUPD telecommunications supervisor, the standard procedure when residents put in a service request is for TUPD to relay it to Facilities Services so the police can focus on handling safety and emergency issues.
According to Jamie Ward, property management coordinator for City Vista, the Facilities Services staff prioritizes issues by urgency. Handling requests takes a couple of business days, on average.
City Vista is currently working on resolving the issue of leaks, which Ward said has only affected a few of the units.
“A few weeks ago, a third party contractor began a major roofing project on the fourth floor patio to address some of the leakage issues we’ve experienced. This project is set to run through the end of the semester,” Ward said.
According to Baker, certain areas of both the patio and roof need special attention when they get repaired. These areas are primarily where the roofing components come together in a seam and allow water to get behind the rubber roof material when they experienced certain conditions.
In terms of other issues, Palmer and her roommates also noticed a strange smell in their kitchen that didn’t disappear after they made sure it wasn’t rotten food.
“When you opened up the bottom part of the sink, there had been water dripping out of the sink, and there had been huge patches of [what looked like mold] all over the bottom of the sink,” Palmer said. “So two of my roommates put in service requests to get the sink fixed, and they said they came in and fixed it, but they didn’t.”
Eventually Palmer resorted to cleaning it herself, though water damage still appeared and — according to her roommates — the sink remains unrepaired.
While students, like Palmer, claimed to have found mold, university investigators found no official safety issues.
“There has been no evidence of mold present at City Vista. Environmental Health and Safety has been out to the property to test for such fungus, but results proved negative,” Ward said.