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UFORA apartment construction delay continues, tenants see no end in sight

UFORA apartment complex wraps up construction after a two month delay. (Kennedy Mason/WUFT News)
UFORA apartment complex wraps up construction after a two month delay. (Kennedy Mason/WUFT News)

Some University of Florida students are still waiting on a place to live, nearly halfway through the semester. The UFORA apartment complex has yet to finish construction after an initial proposed move-in date of August 5. Alyson Gonzalez, a UF parent, said she is feeling “frustrated and misled” because the UFORA apartment complex her daughter was supposed to move into at the start of the school year is still not complete. 651 tenants signed a lease to live at the complex, located at 1218 SW 5th Ave, Gainesville, Florida, near campus and sorority row. “This has been extremely stressful and not conducive to being able to focus on school, which is the priority,” Gonzalez said. While her daughter waits, she has lived between an Airbnb and her friends' apartments. The complex has provided a sliding scale of updated move-in dates throughout the semester, but so far, all of them have missed the mark. The initial delay was supposed to last no more than 60 days from August 5. That deadline would have been October 5. Then on Sunday, an email to tenants from UFORA said, “We have made significant progress, and we are working with the City of Gainesville targeting a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) date this Friday, October 6th, which will allow for your move-in.”

Many tenants still don't believe UFORA's latest timeline. “They also told me that Florida law required them to give 48 hours notice prior to the actual occupancy,” said Joseph Homer, a future UFORA resident’s father. “That really gave them until the 3rd or 4th to give that notice IF there was going to be occupancy on the 6th." However, another addendum was sent Tuesday. Oct. 3 saying the new completion date is "now anticipated to be on or before Oct. 16, 2023." UFORA has offered tenants two financial options while they wait, or the option to terminate their lease. Option one includes the landlord temporarily housing the tenant at an unnamed hotel (promised to be near a bus stop) with a $50 daily gift. Option two includes the tenant finding their own accommodation with a $600 weekly gift. Paul Carnival, a father of a future UFORA resident, says he and his son have agreed it is best for him to stay in the lease because of the convenient location and newness of the building, which is what led them to sign in the first place.

“Us being out of state, and him not having a car, we needed to ensure that he was relatively close to campus,” he said. Kat Rettino, UF senior and future UFORA resident, said it is hard to trust that any of the move-in dates will be accurate. “It’s hard because they've been dishonest thus far,” she said. “Anyone that passed that building a month ago knew it wasn’t gonna be ready,” Carnival said. Homer said Asset Living, which is UFORA’s management company, has been easy to talk to and has “empathy for what we are going through.” However, he said they haven’t let residents talk Alta Terra management, the real estate investor and developer that owns the building. UFORA and Alta Terra did not respond to multiple requests by WUFT News for comment. “To me, that’s where morality comes into play,” Carnival said. “Morality over money.” Homer said on top of the anonymity, it’s become a financial burden. “Multiple moving expenses, there’s been multiple trips by parents to help with all of this moving in and then there’s gas and hotels,” Homer said. While students and parents are cautiously optimistic, many know the building still likely won’t be what they signed up for. “I would love if the amenities were done, but I doubt they are going to be until even Spring semester,” Rettino said.