MU housing plan recommended demolishing University Village in 2011

Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 9:11 p.m. CST; updated 7:09 a.m. CST, Friday, March 7, 2014

COLUMBIA — An MU housing plan drawn up in 2008 recommended that University Village apartments, where part of a walkway collapsed and killed a firefighter Feb. 22, be vacated and demolished by August 2011. 

According to the plan, the buildings at University Village, which were built in 1956, were in such poor condition that renovating them would require their demolition and replacement, at an estimated cost of more than $15 million.

The plan concluded that "the renovation of University Village is not a financially reasonable option" and that the complex should be vacated and demolished by August 2011.

MU commissioned the plan to consider long-term options for renovating its four graduate student and family apartments: Manor House, Tara Apartments, University Heights and University Village. It was released by MU on Wednesday in response to a Sunshine Law request.

The plan identified the buildings' walkways as safety hazards and proposed their replacement. 

The walkway of one building was so badly warped and deteriorated that it rendered the second floor uninhabitable. That building — Building 708 —  is unoccupied, but it is unclear whether anyone lived there when the plan was written.

Termites had caused "significant" damage to some buildings' wooden floors and wall framing, according to the plan, and this made several units uninhabitable.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said Wednesday that the university chose to keep University Village open because of its low cost, proximity to campus and community atmosphere.

On Feb. 22, the walkway of Building 707 partially collapsed, killing Lt. Bruce Britt of the Columbia Fire Department.

A subsequent inspection by Trabue, Hansen and Hinshaw Inc., a local structural engineering firm hired by MU, identified three other walkways on the verge of "catastrophic collapse," according to the firm's reports. Wooden beams have been installed under all University Village walkways to provide extra stability and allow residents to continue living there. 

The university is discussing long-term plans for the complex, Basi said Wednesday, but he would not speculate on what those plans were. Basi could not be reached for comment Thursday.

University Village, located near the southwest corner of Providence and Stewart roads, houses older students and families. There were 109 people living in University Village at the time of the collapse. The 18 residents living in Building 707 have since been relocated to other university housing, hotels or residential homes.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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Ellis Smith March 7, 2014 | 8:49 a.m.

Wow! IF there were now to be a tort lawsuit this information would constitute a plaintiff's attorney's dream!

Are they STILL saying they aren't going to have regular building inspections by someone other than university maintenance workers?

And last time I checked there are FOUR - count them - campuses in University of Missouri System. At at least two of those campuses (MU, MS&T) - and in daily use - there are buildings that are over 100 years old.

Unbelievable! Actually, not: after more than 60 years of association with this university I doubt that anything could be termed unbelievable.

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