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The floors are falling in 300 Swift apartments

There’s trouble in paradise. The luxury apartment complex at 300 Swift, purchased by Duke in December 2016, is beginning to show some wear and tear.

Students living in the building—currently numbering more than 400—have reported a number of problems with the facility. In their August 2019 training, resident assistants were reportedly told that the floors in the Swift complex had fallen a few centimeters from the time they were built.

Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life, confirmed the floor problems in an email to The Chronicle.

“We are aware this has occurred in a couple of apartments and will make repairs after the spring semester ends as the work is disruptive to the apartments involved,” Gonzalez wrote.

Although the University has not provided an explanation for why the floors have fallen, students have suggested one possible explanation: the volume and size of parties that occur within.

“[Swift is] a great building that has undergone unplanned abuse from college students who view the space as temporary and pay little consequence for damages which they produce,” sophomore Kat Beben wrote in a message.

Some students’ rooms have even sustained damage after upstairs neighbors partied a little too hard.

“One Friday night, my bathroom ceiling started leaking because of the apartment upstairs, and we still have water damage,” sophomore Camden Nelson wrote in a message. “Several times during the year, excessive jumping above me has caused the lightbulbs in my kitchen to stop working.”

Sophomore Anna Markey explained that the complex can sometimes have a distinct Greek vibe.

“Living in Swift feels like living in the middle of a frat party at times,” she wrote in a message.

There are currently five Greek organizations living in 300 Swift, two selective living groups and one independent house.

Greystar, the company managing 300 Swift, restricted balcony access in 2018 after voicing concerns regarding the safety of the support railings. Access was restored a year later after the University worked with an outside engineering firm to confirm the safety of the railings. 

Executive Vice President Tallman Trask confirmed to The Chronicle that the 300 Swift building—which was built in 2014—has suffered since Duke acquired it in 2017. 

“300 Swift is not a long term option. There are issues with the balconies,” Trask wrote in an email. “And it was built by a developer to flip; not to Duke standards.”

Between the balconies and issues with the floors in the apartment complex, Trask pointed to a five to 10 year timeframe for replacing the building—although there are no set plans for which existing or new dorms will accommodate the students currently housed there. 

Purchased in an effort to relocate students displaced by construction in Craven and Crowell Quads, the University has made it clear that the complex is not a permanent component of the campus housing system. 

“300 Swift was never intended to be a long term option for undergraduate housing, but is unclear how long we will need to use it as such,” Gonzalez wrote. “Different possibilities exist for the long term use of the facility, but nothing has been decided yet.”

Administrators have expressed interest in moving all upper-class students to West Campus, citing the proposed construction of two additional dorms as a possible solution.

These problems are coming in the same year as the announcement that residents of 300 Swift—formerly paying the same rate as their West Campus counterparts—will need to pay more for housing beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year.

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