After delays, some residents were able to move into their new homes at Aspen Heights on Saturday.
Many of the residents who moved in Saturday were previously scheduled to move in on July 31 or Aug. 1.
Multiple houses were not ready on time due to delays in construction. The delays were caused by two large snowstorms last winter and a change of construction companies mid-project. Several residents were placed in hotels or other alternative housing for up to two weeks until their units were completed.
It became apparent July 1 that completion on several units would be delayed, Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins said.
“We began calling residents immediately after that,” Watkins said.
Senior Zach Berger, who was placed in a hotel by Aspen Heights, was notified of the change in move-in days two weeks prior to that expected date, he said.
Other residents, such as junior Neal Wallis, were notified only a day before that they would not be able to move in as scheduled.
“I mean, I wasn’t extremely happy…,” Wallis said. “I was living down here, so it wasn’t as bad, but I saw a lot of people — their parents pulled up on that day from out of town with a whole bunch of stuff.”
Junior Catie Reimer, who is on staff at Aspen Heights, was one of the employees who worked with the residents who were forced to wait.
"Aspen Heights recognizes that we made a mistake and there was a delay, and they're doing everything they can above and beyond to make sure that we do the best job that we can to come up with some sort of a combination that works for the students, and giving them the money they need to store their items,” Reimer said. “We're doing everything that we can."
Berger, who was briefly employed by Aspen Heights to go through the units and check for broken faucets and lights, said he has some anxiety about his unit, but he feels that the construction crew, not Aspen Heights, is at fault.
“I don’t blame Aspen Heights as much as I blame the construction company, especially after working here,” Berger said. “I really saw up close how these guys just didn’t care about it. The construction workers just didn’t seem to have incentive to make them very nice. They were just trying to meet their quotas.”
Aspen Heights has been looking into the delay at the Columbia site and is researching ways to prevent similar incidents from happening to their next projects, Watkins said.
“Our corporate headquarters developed a task force that's called Project Quickstart that's really going to reassess everything that took place over the past year with our Columbia project, you know, really diving deeper into why the construction timeline ended up being a delay,” Watkins said.
Eighty individuals are still waiting to move into their new homes at Aspen Heights. They have been placed in other living complexes such as Brookside and The Grove while their units are completed, and they have been compensated $800 to pay for any expenses due to the delay. Watkins said these residents were told their houses would be ready in four to six weeks, but he anticipates construction to be completed sooner.
“We feel these units are going to come along very fast now because we can devote now the entire construction team to just one phase of the property, and so now we have a lot of resources in a very small space,” Watkins said. “We’re very confident that that’s going to definitely speed this up.”