Residents evacuated from sinking Hess Village building

A crack in the foundation below apartment 757 in Hess Village forced students out of their home. Photo by Jesse Hoff/The Sun Star

By Molly Dischner
Sun Star Reporter

Hell hasn’t opened up, but a building in Hess Village is sinking into the earth. And rising temperatures may hasten the process.

Last month, building 757 of the student housing complex settled about five-eighths of an inch, said Nathan Platt, assistant director of facilities for Residence Life. And the worst might be yet to come. “We have no real way to know how fast it’s going to sink when the ground thaws,” Platt said.

Because of the foundation’s instability, Residence Life relocated the occupants of the building. Platt said that four families had to be relocated and the last two were moved last week.

The fire marshal has condemned the building, said Leighton Nunez, Res. Life’s building services coordinator.

Nunez said that they first discovered the problem earlier in the semester, when residents complained that they were having trouble shutting their back doors. Inspections revealed that the rear side of the building had sunk a couple of inches. A drilling crew found that it was probably either soft dirt or an air pocket causing the settlement.

Journalism and justice student Andrew Sheeler was one of the students who was relocated last week. He heard about the move on the afternoon of Friday, March 19. Initially, he was told that he’d be moved to Wedgewood Suites on College Road the following Monday. But on Monday he was given some boxes and told that the move probably wouldn’t happen until later in the week. March 24, he was told the move would happen Friday, and that’d he’d be going to Sophie Plaza Apartments.

Like others living in Hess Village, Sheeler has a family. His daughter attends Wood River Elementary School. When Sheeler called the school district to change his daughter’s school bus drop-off location, school officials were surprised at the quick timing, but were accommodating, Sheeler said.

The move was a little more inconvenient for Sheeler. Packing wasn’t in his plan for the week, so he’s had to miss classes and work to get it all done.

“I’ve pretty much missed all my classes,” he said, noting that he had made it to a few of them, including a midterm in a journalism class.

Fortunately for Sheeler, he only had to pack the boxes, not move them. Residence Life has been very helpful in the relocation, said Sheeler, as were the employees from Facilties Services who were in charge of moving his boxes.

Platt said mid-week that he didn’t know what the exact plans were for building 757. The short-term plan was to get the building empty so that it could be stabilized and repaired. It’s unknown at this time if it can be restored or will have to be demolished. Platt said Facilities Services was responsible for deciding exactly what to do with it once it was empty. Residence Life was just in charge of relocating the residents.

Last week, the final residents were moved out and some work was being done on the building. Most of the relocated residents were able to stay on-campus. Platt said some people were moved to other units in Hess Village, and one family went to an empty apartment in Skarland Hall that was meant for a Residence Director.

Sheeler said he’ll be moving back into Hess Village when a unit opens up – probably in May. He was told to “unpack the stuff I need and leave everything else in boxes,” he said.

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  1. April 5, 2010

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