Students wonder what’s next as management and city meet over evacuated apartments

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Engineers from the city of San Marcos and management of the Vie Lofts inspected an evacuated apartment complex just outside Texas State University. More than 160 students are eagerly awaiting information on whether they can return to their apartments or if they’ll need to find other places to live.

City officials ordered people out of the building last Friday because of concerns of the structural stability of a corner stairwell. Without access to the stairwell, city staff told KXAN there were not enough exits for an emergency and the building was evacuated.

Monday, a spokeswoman from Vie Management wrote KXAN there isn’t a major concern with the structural integrity of the building. The city of San Marcos did not provide additional information Monday.

“The findings thus far have been consistent with our initial reports and inspections that there is no question about the structural integrity of the building,” wrote Sabrina Leon, representing Vie Management.

“The City of San Marcos fire department did express an initial concern with one stairwell (there are three stairwells in the building) and a door frame both of which need to be repaired. These two concerns do not have a direct connection/impact with the structural integrity of the building,” wrote Leon.

According to Leon, the city requested a new safety evacuation plan. Vie Management hopes to send that plan to the city by Wednesday.

Over the weekend, Vie Management placed students in local hotels and offered to prorate rent for the missing days.

The San Marcos fire chief, engineers contracted from the city, and representatives from Vie Management walked in, out, and around the property on Chestnut Street Monday. Students were allowed limited time to collect possessions before class.

“Right now I don’t know what’s going to happen, in the next couple weeks, like where I’ll be staying. I think everyone is just in the dark right now with what’s going on,” said Laurel Lowke, who lives with three other roommates and came back to get her pet Gecko.

Besides the taped-off stairwell, students could also see some paneling hanging and a decent crack in the bricks toward the top. It is unknown if those are superficial problems or symptoms of a larger problem with the building.

Lowke told KXAN she did not notice construction problems besides the stairwell.

“No I didn’t notice anything and in the stairwell that they said they were concerned with, there was a part on the parking level area that was crumbling,” said Lowke. “I thought someone was coming home and maybe messed it up. But I didn’t think it was the building itself that was actually having a problem.”

Lowke says she’s had little information about what will happen next and is thinking about moving to another apartment. The city didn’t answer questions on camera Monday. Staff says they’re waiting for a complete report from their engineers who were on-site Monday before they comment.

Vie Management bought these apartments from the real estate investment firm Stonemont Financial just this January. Derrick Milam, Co-Founder of Vie Management, tells KXAN the city signed off on all the building permits before they were able to have people living inside.

KXAN put in public information requests for a more detailed permit history and any code violations at the property. The city has 10 days per law to provide that information unless they seek a ruling from the Texas Attorney General.

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