This semester's first week of classes was met with maintenance issues for residents of Granville Towers East. UNC's private housing option has recently been the site of multiple maintenance concerns involving broken elevators, HVAC unit and water functioning issues, rusting stairwell handrails and mold — according to students.
Although other maintenance issues are present on campus, conditions in Granville Towers East worsened over the holiday weekend.
First-year students Will Chapman and Charlie Fitzgerald, roommates on the fourth floor of the East Tower, noticed a change in their water pressure last Friday morning. Then the water went out altogether, Chapman said.
“When it came back, we ran it,” he said. “It was like this dark, muddy, brown with sediment coming out of the faucets and stuff. So, after letting that run for 30 minutes, it got clearer. And at that point it was cold; the hot water heaters were out.”
The hot water did not return for Chapman and Fitzgerald until the next morning, which was the next time they were able to shower. The roommates have been offered a key to shower in Granville Towers South before when they experienced a problem with their shower drain last semester.
“The support group and the customer service at Granville Towers is 100 percent lacking," Fitzgerald said. "They were like 'Oh, here's a key, just go shower at South Tower.' I mean, that's great, but I have to get all my stuff, I've got to get a change of clothes, I've got to walk all the way to South Tower. And it's like you're sticking out like a sore thumb. It's like 'Wow, I don't want to do this.' I'd honestly rather not shower.”
There are two elevators in the East Tower, which is a nine-story building. According to an email from Granville Towers Management on Jan. 14, renovations on the elevators began prior to winter break. The email said that the elevators were supposed to be completed prior to students returning from break.
“Due to equipment failures and delays with associated vendors, the elevators are scheduled to be inspected by the state on Wednesday, January 18, (2023),” a Jan. 13 email from Granville Towers Staff said.
The Jan. 13 email listed times ranging from Jan. 14 through 17 when elevator technicians would be available to transport resident belongings.
Fitzgerald said he receives emails about maintenance updates from Granville Towers frequently, with dates when the maintenance will be completed.
“The thing is, we are constantly getting these emails about problems, especially for East Tower, and they're making these false promises that they're not fulfilling in the timespan that they're telling us,” Fitzgerald said.
The Jan. 13 email details the most recent maintenance issues and when they would be addressed. It cited the water, HVAC units, stairwell handrails and elevators as four points for repairs.
Granville Towers East resident, first-year Kate Ross, along with her roommate, were constantly sick since moving into the residence hall last fall. When they went home for break, Ross said she stopped feeling sick, but her symptoms returned when she came back to school.
She bought a mold test kit to check for mold in her room. And after placing the kit under her HVAC unit for an hour, then sealing it, mold showed up in the petri dish a few days later.
Ross said in order to identify the type of mold, she would have to send it in for testing, which costs roughly between $40 and $50.
"I sent a picture in the group chat where the community assistants and the building manager are, but no one said anything," she said.
While Granville Towers East has been a building of conversation this week, it has not been the only facility with maintenance issues this school year.
An elevator in Morrison Residence Hall has been out of service for several weeks, elevators in Hamilton Hall have broken down multiple times and detectable lead levels were found in 127 buildings across campus as of Jan. 18.
"American Campus Communities (ACC), which operates Granville Towers, contracts with the University to provide housing for residential students," UNC Media Relations said in an email statement. "We know that ACC is aware of issues with the facilities, and they are working to address those concerns."
In a Jan. 17 statement to The Daily Tar Heel, Granville Towers Management said their goal is to always ensure residents are comfortable and safe. The elevators are running at limited capacity, and the handrails have been secured awaiting full improvement project. The water outage was "quickly resolved," the email statement said.
"We apologize for any inconvenience as we work diligently to complete these upgrades," the statement said.
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