SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Dozens of students stopped by the Vie Lofts on Saturday to collect personal belongings following Friday night’s mandatory evacuation.
The San Marcos Fire Marshal issued the evacuation in response to safety concerns over structural stability — including that of a stairwell.
“The structural integrity of those stairwells has been comprised because of cracks in the CMU, breaks in the CMU, some of them even collapsed and fallen away,” Les Stephens, the city’s fire chief said. “Then on top of that, just the structural integrity of the stairwell itself, the actual treads, we’re not sure that they’re unsafe but we’re again out of an abundance of caution we thought that this was the best course of action at this time.”
In a statement on Saturday, Vie Lofts representatives said they were surprised. Writing, “…we have passed what we thought were all the proper inspections and have approved paperwork from our engineers showing the structural integrity of our building.”
However, students like roommates Whitney Cooper and Samantha Kaiser believe otherwise.
“There’s been caution tape on one of the stairwell doors for I think a week now,” Kaiser said.
“It just feels like everything has been hidden away or patched just enough so no one notices,” added Cooper.
Many students were accompanied by their parents on Saturday to the off-campus student housing building.
“Obviously safety is our number one concern so we have no confidence in this building from what we’ve experienced,” Kenny Williams, one of the tenants’ parents said.
Williams traveled from Tyler to San Marcos on Saturday after receiving a frantic call from his daughter Friday night.
For now, displaced tenants are staying in temporary housing set up by the Vie Lofts property management including The Avenue apartment complex and the Embassy Suites.
“It makes me feel not good because this was totally out of my control and you shouldn’t have to be displaced for your living because we picked this place because it was conveniently close to campus and now I’m having to wonder how I am going to get to campus on Monday morning,” Kaiser said.
But after years of living at the Vie Lofts, roommates Cooper and Kaiser said they are now looking for a new home.
“We don’t want to live here anymore,” Cooper said. “It seems like they tried to cover it up or not really let us know what was going on and I don’t want to live in a building that doesn’t take things like that seriously.”
Tenants who have questions can meet with representatives from Vie Lofts at the San Marcos Police Department Auditorium Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or call 737-484-3930. The City of San Marcos has set up a recorded hotline line to receive the latest updates on the situation at 512-393-8488.
Read the full statement from Vie Lofts Management:
“We want to reiterate that the safety of our residents at Vie Lofts at San Marcos is our number one priority. As a parent myself, I completely understand the concerns of other parents and residents and understand the inconvenience this is causing. This decision by the city on Friday took me by surprise as well, as we have passed what we thought were all the proper inspections and have approved paperwork from our engineers showing the structural integrity of our building.
At the earliest time possible on Monday (even if we have to sit on city hall steps and wait for them to open) we will have a meeting with the City of San Marcos for clarification on why this was the only possible outcome on Friday. Our goal is to understand why they expressed safety issues, fix anything they say isn’t safe immediately and have all residents back into their homes as soon as possible. If this doesn’t happen in a quick turnaround we will address any lease concerns on a case by case basis.
Until we can confirm that there are no safety issues for our residents, they will continue to stay in temporary housing until we can ensure that they can safety. We will continue to be in constant communication with our residents and also update information at our dedicated recorded hotline, 737-484-3930.”Derrick Milam, Co-Founder of Vie Management