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Student residents forced out of KU apartment building because of drought-related damage

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Sometimes we reporter types want to try to dig up more information than we can get by just dialing a phone number or clicking a mouse three, or even four, times.

One of those times happened last month. I heard from a KU graduate student who'd had to move out of his home in the on-campus Stouffer Place apartment complex, along with his wife and two daughters, because of safety concerns about the building. He'd been told the building had developed some structural problems because of the recent drought, and he wanted some assurance that the new Stouffer Place building into which his family had moved didn't have the same issues.

He wanted to take a look at an engineering study on his building's problems, and make sure such problems hadn't been found elsewhere in the 25 buildings that make up Stouffer Place, a housing complex for couples, students with families and others.

So we asked about it. I sent KU a Kansas Open Records Act request for documents related to any engineering studies done on Stouffer Place buildings since the beginning of 2012.

Last week, I got my hands on the documents in question. And they show that an engineering study did indeed find some worrisome problems about this student's building, Building No. 20, and no studies had found any structural problems with any other buildings.

The report said the building had settled because of the dried-out soil underneath, caused by the drought and a nearby tree that sucked up what little moisture was there. There were cracks in walls and gaps between the floor and the walls. The biggest structural concern, the report says, was a gap between the second floor and the north wall, which had moved about half an inch away from the rest of the building. It recommended several thousand dollars' worth of repairs.

You can download the report here, in case you're curious. (It has some pictures.)

This graduate student and other residents in the building were told they'd have to move while KU conducted repairs, according to some materials he shared.

Jim Modig, KU's director of Design and Construction Management, said a few buildings here and there had developed such problems because of the drought, but the problem wasn't "huge." If you've noticed any other campus buildings that have seemed to settle or shift a bit over the last year or two, though, let me know at merickson@ljworld.com.

And send in those KU news tips, too. I'd love to see them, no many how many mouse-clicks are required.

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  • Comments

    Keith Richards 1 year, 6 months ago

    They should tear those hideous buildings down and replace them with something that isn't third world country accommodations.

    merickson 1 year, 6 months ago

    During a chat about KU's master planning process for a story in our KU Today edition (coming in August!), Modig did say the Stouffer Place complex is one area of campus that could be used better as things become more crowded. He mentioned the possibility of replacing them with a denser development with more stories, rather than the 25 different two-story buildings that are there now. That would open up space for other development in that area. Not to mention at least some of them are quite old — this building in question was built in the 1950s, according to that engineering report.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    merickson 1 year, 6 months ago

    Not yet. But that's something else you might want to watch for in the KU Today section in August.

    -Matt

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