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University Village closes, demolition to begin shortly

Monday, June 30, 2014 | 12:47 p.m. CDT; updated 10:47 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
MU graduate student Farid El-Sayed packs his family's belongings into their car Monday at University Village. The MU-owned apartment complex was scheduled to close Monday. "It will be a miracle if the trunk closes," he said. El-Sayed, who is pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry, has lived at the apartment complex with his family since February.

COLUMBIA — The University Village parking lot was nearly empty, windows were boarded up and, even though it was 80 degrees Monday morning, most of the air conditioning units weren't running.

The MU-owned apartments designed for older students, graduate students and students with families were scheduled to close Monday. Built in 1956, the complex's 14 buildings housed more than 100 residents. The complex was also home to the Student Parent Center day care. 

The buildings are set to be demolished once the university works through some last-minute details with a contractor, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. Two or three of the buildings are planned to remain open indefinitely for storage. 

Minh Uong, an MU civil engineering student, cleaned the apartment he shared with his wife and two daughters Monday morning so that they could fully move out. 

He and his family have lived at University Village for four years. They moved most of their things to MU's Tara Apartments on Thursday. 

"It's good and it's bad," Uong said about moving. "It's good to move to a new house. Everything is new and more clean." 

He said after four years, it would be nice to rearrange the furniture at his new place. 

Besides the Uongs and some MU Residential Life workers, University Village was quiet. 

Devin Matney, Chris Moses and some other workers were taking a break from pulling air conditioners and other appliances out of the apartments. 

They said they only had a couple buildings left to do. 

"I think we gotta have them all out by Friday," Matney said. 

Many of the appliances are new, said Moses, and will be used somewhere else on campus or put into storage. 

The structural integrity of the University Village buildings came into question after part of a walkway collapsed at Building 707 on Feb. 22, killing Lt. Bruce Britt of the Columbia Fire Department as he responded to a structural emergency there.

In the wake of that event and because of the cost of renovating the buildings, MU decided to tear them down.

Residential Life was able to accommodate all the residents of University Village who wanted to continue living in university-owned housing, department director Frankie Minor said earlier this month. 

Long-term plans for the site are still being discussed, Basi said.  As for the Student Parent Center, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said in April that he had tasked Gary Ward, interim vice chancellor for administrative services, with gathering cost estimates for building a new center or re-opening it in another location. 

Supervising editor is Seth Klamann.


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