Weeks before Paul Escher was supposed to move into his new apartment near the University of Minnesota campus, the first-year medical student got an e-mail that forced him to change his plans.
Construction on his three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in a new building called Prime Place wouldn’t be done in time for his Sept. 2 move-in date. He and his two roommates had to find somewhere else to live — with classes starting in just five weeks.
“It is with much regret that we inform you that despite the contractors’ best efforts, portions of Prime Place Minneapolis will not be completed by Sept. 2,” the e-mail from general managers at Prime Place LLC said. “Your apartment is in the area that will not be completed. We apologize for the serious inconvenience this will cause you.”
Escher and an unknown number of other U students — Prime Place hasn’t disclosed how many leases were affected — were given two choices: They could either end their lease and get their security deposit back or wait until Dec. 29 to move into Prime Place and get $1,500 for their trouble.
“It was stressful because A, I didn’t know where I was going to live, and B, I knew that I was probably going to end up spending more money than I had budgeted,” Escher said. “You can imagine that when you’re heading into the start of a new school year in a new place, those are things you don’t want to be worrying about.”
Reached by phone, Prime Place general manager Blake Franklin declined to comment. Chris Elsey of Elsey Partners, the Kansas-based developer behind the planned 201-unit project, also declined to comment.
The apartment complex is located on SE. 27th Avenue, near TCF Bank Stadium. University spokesman Evan Lapiska said the U doesn’t own the land and doesn’t have any involvement with the property.
The Prime Place website shows monthly rents at the Minneapolis complex range from $1,008 for a studio to $538 per person for a four-bedroom.
The company also manages student apartments in Manhattan, Kan., Stillwater, Okla., and Lincoln, Neb. In 2015, University of Nebraska students encountered a similar situation when they moved into their new apartment complex and found that the units weren’t finished.
At the U, attorneys at University Student Legal Services are recommending that students not agree to either of the choices Prime Place gave before they explore legal options, said director Mark Karon. Attorneys have yet to determine what those options are, he said, but it’s possible the last-minute change is a breach of contract and students could be eligible for damages.
In the meantime, students still have to find housing.
“The problem, obviously, for any student is that school begins the day after Labor Day,” Karon said.
Escher said he was able to find another apartment with his brother, but they had to part ways with their third roommate.
“Suffice it to say, we’re both going to be paying more than we would have,” he said.