Blue Hawk Square not ready; Officials: Students will not be left without housingIt might not be completed by Saturday, but students planning to live at Blue Hawk Square on West Villard Street in Dickinson will not be homeless until it is completed, officials said Thursday.
By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press
It might not be completed by Saturday, but students planning to live at Blue Hawk Square on West Villard Street in Dickinson will not be homeless until it is completed, officials said Thursday.
Blue Hawk Square LLC, a group of private investors, in conjunction with the Dickinson State University Alumni Foundation, built Blue Hawk Square next to the Oasis Motel with the intention of easing the housing crunch, specifically for DSU students, but construction delays laid out in a press release from the city could make it worse before it gets better.
Inspections conducted Tuesday and Wednesday showed many deficiencies related to fire safety, as well as an incomplete parking lot and crosswalk, which could lead to safety issues while crossing Villard Street, according to the release sent by Dickinson City Planner Ed Courton and Fire Chief Bob Sivak.
“Chances are very slim that they’re going to be able to open up on Saturday,” Courton said.
Saturday is the planned move-in day for the at-capacity, 125 to 135 student housing building. Classes start 3 p.m. Monday.
“Construction crews are working hard to — the intent is to open on Saturday and it’s working with the city as well to make sure we’re meeting all codes and those type of things,” DSUAF CEO Kevin Thompson said.
The project is headed by Granville Brinkman, who has been working on the historical Dickinson Elks Building downtown for seven years, has been taken to court along with another company and has missed six deadlines on the project that is not connected to Blue Hawk Square.
“(Brinkman’s) been a good advocate of Dickinson State University and the various projects we have done,” Thompson said. “It was a committee of individuals that decided to work with (Brinkman) and they still feel very confident in all of his work and what he does.”
A provision in the lease states management will provide alternative housing in the event of a construction delay.
DSUAF has been working with DSU Residential Life and area hotels to provide housing for the misplaced students, Thompson said. Students have been notified they may not be moving into their new apartments as planned.
Courton was relieved to hear the 100-plus students would not be homeless during delays.
The building will not be 100 percent complete for another three to four weeks, Brinkman said, but will be move-in ready by Saturday or a few days later, and students will be moved in by the end of the first week of classes.
“Obviously we want to work with the contractors best possible and open up — allow them to open up as soon as possible as long as we’re guaranteed people’s lives aren’t at stake,” City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.
The project could be complete by the Saturday deadline, Sivak said.
“If they have cooperation from all of their contractors and their subcontractors and all the parts and pieces that they need are either there or get to them, it is possible,” he said. “There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ that have to happen for it all to come together for them. And for their sake, I hope it does.”
Courton agreed, adding “It does not appear that they’re probably going to make it on time.”
Extending the deadline a week would give crews a realistic completion goal, he said.
There were several construction delays, including a groundbreaking that was two months late, Brinkman said. Materials were shipped off schedule and recent rains have delayed finishing the outside.
Blue Hawk Square is exclusively for DSU students but is not part of DSU Residential Life student housing, Thompson said.
Rents range from $325 to $650 per month per person, depending on how rooms and apartments are shared, according to floor plans available on the Blue Hawk Management website. Each student has a nine- or 12-month lease. Three-month leases may be available for the summer if there is space, Thompson said.
On-campus student dorms and apartments range from $953 to $1,422 per semester for single student housing, according to the DSU website. Family housing is available for $492 to $559 per month.
Blue Hawk Square LLC owns the building, which is managed by Blue Hawk Management through the DSUAF, Thompson said.
Students choosing to reside in Blue Hawk Square are not considered on-campus, Thompson said. DSU students are required to live on campus until they have completed 60 credits or are 21 years of age, with exceptions.
The building will feature one to four bedroom apartments with single and shared bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. Depending on the floor plan, some residents will have private bathrooms.
Dirt began moving for the 41,000-square-foot apartment building in January, Thompson said. It was built using a modular format, which is put together like blocks.
This saved time as much of the building was complete as it was put together. Building the traditional way would have taken at least a year, he said.
Even though the project could be late, it will still be an asset in a town where an oil boom has caused a housing shortage, Brinkman said.
“I think it’s going to serve Dickinson and the university very well,” he said. “We needed affordable student housing and that’s what we’ve created here.”