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One of six apartment buildings that make up the 6 Plex area of UND apartments. The university is advancing plans to tear down this structure among 39 total buildings in the 6 Plex and Northwestern Drive apartment neighborhoods. (Andrew Haffner/Grand Forks Herald)

UND plans to raze 39 campus apartment buildings

UND is submitting to the State Board of Higher Education plans to raze a set of 39 apartment buildings occupied by upper-level students and a child care facility.

The buildings are clustered in two groups known in the university housing system as the Northwestern Drive and 6 Plex apartments. They're located, respectively, in a horseshoe-shaped street of the same name and in rows along State Street and Stanford Road, both near the University Place student housing complex.

Connie Frazier, UND executive director of housing and dining, said the 39 buildings account for a total of 136 units that will be taken offline at the end of the 2017-18 academic year. As of now, Frazier said, 60 of those units are occupied, mainly by a mix of graduate and doctoral students, some of whom are living there with their families.

All of the buildings have been targeted for demolition because of their age and deferred maintenance needs. An action summary submitted to the SBHE for discussion in its June 27 meeting states the 6 Plexes were constructed in 1959. The Northwestern Drive apartments were built in 1966. According to the summary, the demolition of the buildings will save UND approximately $630,000 in operating costs and $430,000 in repair costs.

Residents were told in February that they needed to vacate their apartments by the end of this summer, though that date was pushed back after the occupants protested the quick turnaround in an open forum. Until the buildings are shut down for good, residents will be exempt from rate increases planned for other UND-owned apartments. Some of the buildings' residents have trickled out after the end of the most recent academic year. Those who are leaving the buildings have been offered priority reassignments to other campus housing areas, Frazier said.

UND apartment occupancy rates tend to stand at percentages between the mid-80s and 90s, and Frazier said there's room to absorb the residents of the closing buildings if they so wish to stay in campus housing. She said there are no current plans to add more apartments to the university's stock.

Many of the closing buildings are in serious disrepair, and Frazier said the older apartments are offered at rents below market rates.

"Our historical numbers are pretty steady, we have a pretty consistent population," she said. "Mostly (residents) want the price-point or convenience, so they tend to choose our units for those reasons."

One of the buildings closing in the Northwestern Drive area is leased to the Early Head Start child care center. That facility is operated by Mayville State University and will be shuttered at the same time as the residential structures, Frazier said.

She continued to say the Early Head Start has been seeking out another space anyway as part of an expansion plan. The facility is on a month-to-month lease with UND until it finds a new location.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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