Now Leasing…if you’re a student

Nearly half of Legacy LV residents will need to move out to make way for UNLV’s housing expansion

By Jeniffer Solis | December 18, 2017

Eduardo Tayong has lived at the University Park Apartments, now branded as Legacy LV, for almost 15 years. Tayong, a UNLV janitor just a year away from retirement, migrated from the Philippines and plans to take his naturalization test in January.


His daughter, who has waited 12 years herself for a U.S. citizenship, is also about to complete the process. But, instead of looking forward to his retirement and naturalization within the next year, Tayong will need to take his wife, daughter and granddaughter and find a new place to live.


“It’s hard really. It’s hard to move,” Tayong said. “It will be an additional expense to us.”


Tayong is one of many non-student residents who received notices on their doors in October telling them they had until June 30 of next year to move out and that they won’t be allowed to resign their leases in 2018.

About 40 percent of Legacy LV residents won’t be able to resign their leases in 2018 because they aren’t students. Photo by Blaze Lovell/UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press


About 40 percent of Legacy LV’s current residents will need to find new places to live come fall 2018, according to project documents. These residents, many of whom have rented the apartments for years, are being booted to make space for more UNLV students.


Melissa Warren, a spokesperson for Asset Campus Housing, a company contracted for property management at Legacy LV, says residents must be actively enrolled or employed at UNLV on a full time basis.


With residence halls at full capacity at about 1,800 beds, UNLV is looking to increase its housing capacity by about 1,000 with the yet-to-be-finished Degree and Legacy LV. While students stand to gain from the projects, they’re costing residents like Tayong.


Though his apartment is sparsely furnished, he still says being asked to move so much in such short periods of time is difficult.


“I hope they can give us that extension after I retire,” Tayong said. “It’s nice if they can give us two more years.”


Old and New


Konosha Deadmon stands outside her apartment braiding her nephew’s hair and believes the the fact that management is not allowing residents to renew their leases is “horrible.”


“The people who live downstairs from us, they have a kid, and they have to uproot their kid from where they’ve been living for some years,” Deadmon said.


The leaseholder of the apartment, Rufus Smith, says the only notice he received was a paper note on his door asking him to leave by June 30.


“That was the factor in me deciding to move,” Smith said. “It’s just a surprise to me, a big surprise. I mean, I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s fair but, you know, I got to go along with what it is.”


He’s thought about enrolling in UNLV himself. “Maybe I could stay that way,” Smith said.


For some, like Tayong, being uprooted to make way for new student housing may not be new. He needed to relocate from his old apartment that was demolished for The Degree, UNLV’s new, modern, sleek, 700-plus bed apartment building that has already faced construction delays.

Many residents were displaced when apartments were demolished for The Degree. Photo by: Blaze Lovell/UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press


The transformation of blighted urban areas into glistening new buildings designed for renters with more disposable income is something seen too often in developing neighborhoods.


In UNLV’s case, the student housing projects will hopefully spur development and revitalization in the area to slowly build Midtown UNLV,  the university’s plan to creating a collegiate vibe in the surrounding area.


David Frommer, UNLV vice president of planning and construction, told the Free Press during a 2015 interview that gentrification of the area isn’t a concern since property values in Las Vegas are low compared to many other major cities.


However, the result of revitalization tends to be the systematic displacement of poor, working- and middle-class people who vanish, seemingly overnight. In the area surrounding UNLV, the median household income is about $31,000 annually, according to census data.


The U District


The redevelopment plan on UNLV’s north end is part of a $76 million project dubbed the U District, a contemporary student housing community near the UNLV campus, designed to feel like an extension of campus.


UNLV bought University Park from Wells Fargo & Co. for $18.5 million in 2015, with local real estate firm The Midby Cos investing the rest to manage and rebuild apartments at the 14-acre site as part of a public-private partnership between UNLV and The Midby Cos.


The U District is Midby’s first foray into student housing, though the company has had a close relationship with UNLV for decades through donations and board service.


When advocating for the purchase of University Apartments, UNLV President Len Jessup stated that there are 24,000 undergraduate students on the campus and 75 percent of those are full time students, according to NSHE documents. According to Jessup, the university only has room for approximately 1,800 students to live on campus.


The U District will be constructed in three phases. Phase one is The Degree. The remainder of U District will be built out in two phases. During phases two and three the remaining apartments will eventually be demolished and redeveloped, but for now the existing apartments remain.


‘It’s their future, right?’


In an apartment with a pink and purple Barbie big wheel tricycle in the front lives Hilda Pimentel, her four children and her husband Carlos Guillen. She migrated to Las Vegas from Guatemala and has lived in the same apartment for 12 years. It is the only home she’s had since moving to Las Vegas. Her children all grew up in the apartment.


When she renewed her contract a couple months ago, she was not told about the sale of the apartments or that her apartment could be the site of new student dorms.

The median household income around UNLV is about $31,000 annually, according to census data. Photo by: Blaze Lovell/UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press


After new management took over, Pimentel says she has found it near impossible to get anything fixed.


“It takes a lot to get them to fix anything that breaks. I don’t know why, maybe because they want us to leave already,” Pimentel said in Spanish.


After the vinyl flooring of her apartment tore and her daughter tripped and split her lip, she says she asked management to fix it and was told they would not fix the floor until renovations started. She finally was able to get someone to fix the floor after continuously hounding management.


Asset Campus Housing manages the day-to-day operations of the property, including leasing, resident relations, accounting and maintenance.


Pimentel is a stay-at-home mother and takes care of her small children, the youngest being 6 months old. Her husband works two jobs, one as a butcher in a Cardenas, a mexican supermarket chain and one at a restaurant.


“I have no idea where I’m going to go live,” Pimentel said. She’s thought about moving to North Las Vegas where rent is less, but it is far from mass transit, decent schools and her husband’s jobs.


“It’s nice here. The kids like to walk through the university,” Pimentel said. She tells her son, a baby bouncing on her hip, that he might go to UNLV one day. “Well, it’s their future, right?”


Read the most recent NSHE property report below.

Tags assigned to this article:
housingLegacy LVstudent housing

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