ORONO, Maine — College students’ complaints about problems at the new resort-style apartment complex The Grove aren’t the only issues the facility’s parent company, Campus Crest Communities, has had to deal with over the years at its properties across the country.
Residents of The Grove in Orono have complained about repeated power outages, frozen water pipes and sprinkler systems, mold and mildew, and faulty appliances.
Campus Crest, the North Carolina-based developer responsible for 39 residential properties across the nation, including The Grove, has faced questions about construction quality before and been involved in legal disputes in other parts of the country.
On Sept. 3, 2011, A balcony collapsed under the weight of three men who were attending a party at a Campus Crest facility in Denton, Texas, near the University of North Texas. The incident sent the men tumbling to the ground. All three were injured, one seriously, in the fall.
The company said the balconies at the facility were meant to be decorative and not load-bearing, but there were doors leading out to the balconies, a design decision that was criticized by industry experts in the area after the accident.
The company solved the problem by bolting closed the doors leading to the balconies, a spokesman said via email Tuesday.
Other problems have been reported in local and college newspapers near Campus Crest properties.
In August 2011, The Columbia Daily Tribune published a story about complaints from University of Missouri students about doors that didn’t close completely, construction materials that were left behind, cabinets that weren’t level and other problems. The paper also reported that some buildings were late to open, putting some 140 students in hotels or with friends while they waited for the apartments to be finished.
The company blamed unforeseen construction delays for some buildings not being ready to open on time.
Campus Crest also has faced administrative problems in the past, drawing the ire of residents.
In August 2008, The Daily Sentinel of Nacogdoches, Texas, reported that the city and local contractors remained unpaid for months after work on the property was completed. The paper found a total of 17 liens against the company at the time, totaling more than $1.5 million.
Shannon King, Campus Crest’s then-president of real estate management, told the Sentinel that liens were a routine part of the construction process.
“It is typical and standard in the industry for people to file liens just to make sure that their rights are preserved. What that allows them to do and us to do as well is to have a continued communication on that matter,” King said.
Company officials have said the liens since have been taken care of and attributed delayed payments to the 2007-08 economic downturn.
The Daily Record of Ellensburg, Wash., reported in August 2007 that an incorrect date printed in leases meant students had to wait an extra month to move into a new complex with 512 beds. Campus Crest asked the residents to agree to change their leases to the later move-in date, but about 100 students refused, the paper reported. King said Campus Crest took responsibility for the error and attributed the problem to the nature of construction.
Orono has had another problem with The Grove that is unrelated to building or financial information.
Orono officials became concerned about the behavior of residents and visitors to the property almost immediately after The Grove opened. Hundreds of residents gathered in the complex’s parking lots the first weekend in September. Police had to break up two raucous parties that weekend because of the large crowds in the parking lots, loud music, shouting, and people skateboarding and jumping off the entryway roof.
After that weekend, the management stepped up security efforts, officers stepped up patrols, and police have said the large parties have diminished.
“The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority and concern,” Campus Crest spokesman Jason Chudoba said at the time. “We have increased security presence, implemented stricter facility access controls and are coordinating with the Orono police and residents in order to maintain an extraordinary student lifestyle experience.
“Residents who compromise the safety and security of The Grove community will not be tolerated,” Chudoba said.
The facility, which opened in September, has a 620-tenant capacity. Residents pay an average monthly rent of $525 per person.
Campus Crest was founded in 2004 by Mike Hartnett and Ted Rollins. Hartnett graduated from UMaine in 1981.