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A year later, balconies at 300 Swift are back in use

After it took Duke about a year to address safety issues on 300 Swift’s balconies, students living in the apartment complex can now use their balconies again. 

Early last year, Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life, told The Chronicle that the vertical railings on the balconies needed more support. More than a year after saying that the balconies would be “finished shortly,” Gonzalez wrote in an email to The Chronicle Tuesday they are back open for business. 

"We deferred the project to summer to avoid disrupting any students during the spring semester," Gonzalez wrote in an email this past May to The Chronicle.  

The balconies had been closed since August 2018 after Greystar, the management company for the 300 Swift apartments, had voiced safety concerns about the balconies. 

Gonzalez said he and Greystar employed an outside engineering company to make sure the balconies were safe. While the inspections were ongoing, residents were not blocked off from using the balconies—but signs on their doors warned not to use the balconies. 

When the initial safety reviews came back in November 2018, inspectors tried some unusual tactics. Instead of inspecting the balconies by hand, they used binoculars to inspect the balconies remotely to avoid disturbing people living in the apartments, Swift Residence Coordinator Matthew Bailey wrote in an email to residents. 

“As we will be having people looking at the building through binoculars, we strongly encourage residents to close their blinds during the times [specified],” Bailey wrote at the time. 

Bailey added that later concerns would require “on-site follow-up reviews.” 

It took nearly six months for the review to be “almost complete,” in Gonzalez’s words. In May, Gonzalez said that he expected the balconies to be ready for the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year. 

In 2016, the University bought 300 Swift apartments for $50 million, which provided housing for students affected by dorm renovations.

Currently, selective living groups Delta Gamma, Delta Kappa Epsilon, JAM!, the Multicultural Greek Council, Pi Beta Phi, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Nu and independent house Sierra have sections in 300 Swift since Central Campus’s closure. 

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