Fayette County

Residents say new Hub apartments near UK plagued with construction problems

First, the electrical outlets in his room didn’t work.

But William Harper, a junior at the University of Kentucky, gave the management at the Hub a break. The off-campus student apartment building on South Upper Street just opened in August.

The problems continued.

He noticed the bedrooms in his third-floor unit were exceptionally warm while the kitchen he shared with three other roommates was often freezing. He investigated and discovered the vents weren’t properly connected. “It was just blowing cold air right into the kitchen,” Harper said.

Then it rained really hard. Water starting pouring in from the window of the unit’s balcony onto the floor of the common living area. It’s happened twice in October, Harper said.

And the electricity issue? It took 11 days and repeated requests to get it fixed, Harper said.

“I’m a patient person,” Harper said. “But people are paying a lot of money to live here.”

Officials with Chicago-based Core Spaces, which built the Hub and is building a second off-campus apartment complex at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Limestone Street , said they are working to correct problems at the 176-unit building that includes a pool, gym and a ground-floor Target.

They did not comment on the specific issues raised by Harper and other tenants in the complex.

A bathroom in the exercise room of the Hub, an off-campus student apartment complex, on South Upper Street. The mirror has been ripped off the wall. A knob on the faucet came off the wall. William Harper

“With any living situation sometimes issues arise and with new construction issues often don’t present themselves until residents move in,” said Benjamin F. Modleski, president of management at Core Spaces. The company operates dozens of off-campus student housing complexes across the country.

Modleski said the goal is to have all requests handled within 24 hours.

“Most issues are remedied in less than 24-hours, but when the work is unable to be repaired that swiftly we do whatever is possible to have our residents comfortable during this time,” he wrote in an email.

Lexington’s code enforcement division has not received any complaints about the Hub, said Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington.

Dewey Crowe, director of building inspection, said the Hub had one outstanding issue related to parking spaces but that issue has now been resolved.

“According to our construction contacts they are aware of the complaints related to the air conditioning and are addressing them,” Crowe said. “They are not aware of any issues related to leaking balconies.”

That parking space issue was no small thing, said Kennedy Sabharwal, a Hub resident. When she moved in, the parking spaces were so narrow that her car wouldn’t fit. Sabharwal and other Hub residents pay an additional fee for parking. But residents have had to move their cars repeatedly so the Hub could repaint the parking space lines.

“Sometimes we would move them and then they wouldn’t paint that day,” Sabharwal said.

But that’s minor compared to other issues, Sabharwal said.

“We didn’t have hot water for the first 10 days,” the UK senior said. “That’s not as big of an issue for me because I’m from Lexington.”

Some residents moved into their apartments and there were no walls in the bedroom.

“It was just dry wall,” Sabharwal said.

Sabharwal said her three-bedroom apartment also has a leaky window seal on the balcony. Water comes in when it rains. That’s the same problem Harper’s unit has.

Core Spaces did send someone to fix the leaky windows she said. But then it rained again this week and the leak returned, she said.

And there is a design flaw in some of the three-bedroom apartments, she said.

“We had to take the bathroom door off in one of roommate’s bedrooms,” Sabharwal said. The bathroom door hits the bedroom door, which forces the bedroom door to close and lock, she said.

“She’s been locked out of her room,” Sabharwal said. “I know a lot of people who have that same layout who have had to take off that door.”

The Hub on South Upper is not the only Core Spaces apartment complex with issues. Tenants of a Hub apartment complex in West Lafayette, Ind., are considering a class-action lawsuit after the building and many of its amenities were not completed in time for students to move in prior to the semester starting. There have also been safety concerns, including a September shooting on its roof-top deck. Core Spaces pledged to increase security after the shooting.

Students at a Hub complex in Tuscaloosa, Ala., have experienced similar problems, according to an April article in The Crimson White, the University of Alabama student newspaper. Students in that off-campus housing complex are considering a lawsuit and question how city officials there issued a certificate of occupancy when it has had multiple problems, including mold and flooding issues.

Harper has lived in other off-campus housing and chose the Hub because of its proximity to UK’s campus and because of its many amenities. The apartments are furnished and have many of the latest appliances. But those amenities come with a steep price tag. According to the Hub’s website, a four-bedroom apartment starts at $700 per person but most are $800 per person. Studios go for upwards of $1,100.

“I wanted to warn people who are considering leasing from Core Spaces that it is not what they advertise it to be,” Harper said.

Meanwhile, Harper and the other Hub tenants are trying to function in a space that doesn’t always work.

On the evening of Oct. 15, Harper went to the exercise room to work out. He went into the bathroom and found the mirror over the sink gone. There were several holes in the wall where the mirror once was. Harper wanted to wash his hands.

As he tried to turn on the faucet, “the handle fell off the wall,” Harper wrote in an email. “I just have to laugh.”

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.