UNCG Apartments Set to Open in Time, Despite Fire

9:30 AM, Jul 22, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro - The UNCG director of housing and construction project officials confirm a four-building apartment complex ravaged by a fire in March will be ready to house more than 600 students by the time classes resume in two weeks.

Three of the four buildings in Spartan Village (at Highland Ave. and Lee St.) were damaged unsubstantially in the March 14 fire that completely destroyed the fourth and largest of the buildings. Two of the buildings are almost completely finished, and one still needs external work. However, the project manager did assure News 2 Monday that the three buildings will be completed by their initially-established August deadline, as crews are working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

The building destroyed by the fire will not meet its December deadline, as the project manager said rain and other factors slightly slowed down the construction process. However, it is on track to be finished by January, and housing director Tim Johnson said the school intends to begin taking applicants for that apartment in October.

When the fire happened, the application process for the apartments had just opened up, so Johnson said the students who had applied to live in the burned-down apartment were able to select open rooms in the other three apartments. Each apartment complex can house about 200 students.

Investigators have concluded the fire started by accident, not from arson or electrical problems. Since the buildings were under construction, no students were living in the complex at the time, and the most of remainder of the student body was on Spring Break. Project manager Eric Witzke described that night as devastating and referenced the hundreds of hours of hard work that had gone into the building of that almost-complete building.

Johnson and Witzke explained the fire burned the building completely down because the fire-resistant doors had not yet been installed, and the sprinkler system was not turned on. He said the original stairwell that withstood the fire (and was not torn down with the rest of the building) suggests students would have been able to evacuate quickly and safely, if they had been living there.

Johnson said each apartment building abides by state code and has the proper sprinklers and extinguishers installed. He said students and parents will continue to be educated about fire safety, and they have no need to be concerned about a fire happening again in the complex. He said the Greensboro Fire Department reacted quickly to the fire in March, thereby sparing the remaining three buildings from major destruction.

Since students will be moving in to the almost-complete three buildings while the fourth is still under construction, Johnson said construction hours will be modified, so as not to pose distractions to tenants. He also said students should be reassured that most of the construction requiring heavy (and subsequently loud) machinery would be completed by the August move-in date.

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