- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The decades-old Pine Haven apartments for graduate and family housing at the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg will close at the end of the year.

“While they have served the university very well, the reality is that the complex has outlived its usefulness,” Scott Blackwell, director of Residence Life at USM, told The Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/1nuQG3n ).

He said the original 19 units were built between 1959-1963 for $90,000.

He said it would cost more than $20 million to rebuild the original 300-unit complex.

The units, which are constructed of concrete and brick, do not have sprinkler systems and have been difficult to retrofit for students with mobility issues, Blackwell said.

“The units are safe to live in, but students with wheelchair needs have a difficult time in Pine Haven,” he said. “This factor is among a growing list of facility issues that have resulted in the decision to close Pine Haven.”

There are about 40 tenants still live in the complex but must be out by Dec. 31.

Blackwell said Pine Haven tenants were notified last summer of the closure and housing rates were not increased for the 2013-14 academic year.

“If any tenants wished to get out of their contract, they could be released without financial penalty - in the past, we asked for two months’ notice,” Blackwell said. “We just wanted to make it as convenient as possible for apartment dwellers to look for off-campus accommodations.”

In 2005 and 2006 when Pine Haven had 19 buildings, half were demolished to make way for The Village, a 10-building sorority housing community.

Blackwell said the demand for graduate student housing has been decreasing.

“In 2011, only half of Pine Haven apartments were occupied and currently only 40 doctorate/graduate students with families live in the complex now,” he said.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com


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