SHREVEPORT, La. -- The Louisiana State University Board of Regents approved a $3.25 million deal with an Australian company, so that LSU-Shreveport can assume control of its own student housing.
LSU entered into a contract in 1992 with a campus housing company which, at the time, was based in Houston. Under the lease, the company, now known as Campus Living Villages, Inc. with a headquarters in Australia, has control of the University Court Apartments on Youree Drive until 2032. The lease prohibited the school from building new student housing, improving the current housing or directing students to any other housing in the area.
The LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation will buy out the remainder of the lease through a ten-year conventional loan. The foundation will own the housing and debt service, while LSUS will operate and maintain the housing.
In addition to the buyout, the board approved $2 million for basic repairs and improvements to University Court, including upgrades to internet service, new carpet and basic renovations to refresh the aging apartments.
In an earlier 3 Investigates report, LSUS Chancellor Larry Clark told KTBS that he wanted to modernize the existing housing and add traditional freshman dorms.
“We are extremely pleased that we received approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents, as it is a critical step in LSUS acquiring the leasehold agreement for the University Court Apartments. This acquisition will help us further enhance the on-campus offerings to our students, and allow us to continue to attract more students to the Shreveport-Bossier region,” said Wendell Riley, a spokesman for LSUS.
Riley said school administrators have not set a date for when LSUS will officially take over University Court.
"Thank goodness," said Clair Miller, a University Court resident and sophomore at LSUS.
One day before learning of the buyout, 3 Investigates visited Miller's apartment.
The wooden cabinet framework was rotting and Miller said she had a cockroach problem.
In one of the apartment's two bathrooms, there's a hole in the ceiling above the shower, where maintenance crews repaired a leak Friday.
Miller said she first noticed the leak Aug. 21 and reported it to management shortly after.
"Water was just streaming down from the overhead fan," Miller said.
Miller shared a cellphone video she recorded of the leak, with water filling a trash can on the floor below.
She said over the course of multiple calls to the emergency maintenance hotline and visits from repair crews, the leak still was not fixed. Miller said she eventually visited the main office to express her concern in person.
"I said, ‘OK. We need to open the ceiling so we can deal with the leak and not just plaster it again,’ because they had plastered the holes and it had leaked again," Miller said.
Miller said the head of maintenance tore into the ceiling Friday and located the leak. Crews returned Monday to clean up debris and patch up the ceiling. There is still a hole where the fan used to be.
Miller is still concerned about the "filthy" odor that still lingers, along with the possibility of mold.
"This is not a living condition that people should be subjected to, college students or not," Miller said.
In a statement, LSUS said, "We want to ensure that our students have a living experience that is positive and meets their needs, so they can focus on having successful and rewarding academic careers at the university. It is our goal to provide excellent service to students living in these apartments, and gaining ownership and operational control of the UCA will allow us to do that."
Campus Living Villages provides two phone numbers for a U.S.-based media contact. Messages left with both of those numbers have not been returned.