Nearly 450 Aspen Heights residents to be delayed

Move-in starts Wednesday, but nearly half the tenants won't have a ready apartment

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Aspen Heights tenants can start moving into the new south Columbia complex Wednesday morning, but nearly half will not get keys to their apartment.

A spokesman for the company told ABC 17 News Tuesday that almost 450 students will have delays getting into their buildings, off Nifong Boulevard and Ponderosa.

Spokesman Stuart Watkins attributed the delays to several factors, including weather and construction delays.

The students stuck without an apartment are being put up at hotels and other complexes in the area.

Their estimated move-in date is now August 17, but still others could be delayed longer.

One MU senior, Caleb, told ABC 17 News Tuesday he and his roommates had not been told about the delay until Monday morning.

"We don't know why it's not done, we don't know an approximation of when we'll be moving in," he said. "We just don't know how long we're going to be in the hotel."

Then, when they tried to ask questions and get more explanation, the leasing office had closed for a move and the phone line went straight to a busy voicemail.

Watkins told ABC 17 News the company had sent an email to parents and tenants requesting they email questions because someone was personally responding to all of those.

The email, titled "An Apology from Aspen Heights," explained a safety concern in much of the complex because of the ongoing construction.

Watkins said Tuesday the corporate office made the decision to phase in tenants rather than push back opening because of the needs of students to be on campus a couple weeks early.

In the mass email, Aspen Heights offered an apology, saying:

"We accept full responsibility for the delay in construction. While many factors were out of our control, the property in-full will not be delivered on time, and we are deeply sorry. This is a first for Aspen Heights and something we are addressing as an organization and taking very seriously."

Aspen Heights said it was providing the temporary housing and offering affected tenants at least $400 for the inconvenience.

For those able to move in this week, some amenities were also still behind schedule. Those included the clubhouse and pool area. Watkins said those should open within a week.

The project has been troubled from the start, when city leaders got caught in a public outcry after the Regency and Del Ray trailer court residents were evicted from their homes with little notice to make way for construction on Aspen Heights.

Then this winter, a dispute with a contractor and several sub-contractor scams left dozens of workers stranded in Columbia without pay, food or a way home. Aspen Heights says it has paid out all claims that were made in the dispute.

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