Historic apartments demolished

Now enclosed by green wired fences, six buildings located in the apartment area of campus have been inundated with bulldozers and construction workers for the past month. The site is home to UM’s latest construction project, the demolition and restoration of the historic Foster, Allen, Smith, Railey, Brunstetter and Grosvenor apartments.

The fences were originally placed in early December, and demolition took place during winter break to reduce its impact on campus functions.

“We’ve completed two buildings so far, buildings 22 and 23,” said Eddy Lopez, project manager for the apartment demolition. Building 22 is the Brunstetter apartment and 23 is the Grosvenor apartment.

Demolition of building 41, the Railey apartment, is underway, and the entire restoration process is scheduled for completion in late March.

According to UM spokesperson Margot Winick, the buildings have been slated to be demolished since 1992, but permits and land ordinances were only recently granted by the City of Coral Gables.

Completed in 1948, the apartment area was originally designated to house married veterans and their families. After World War II, the buildings were used for student housing and administrative offices.

These buildings, Winick said, have outlived their usefulness as student housing standards have developed. The area will be landscaped and treated as open space once the buildings are demolished.

Building apartment complex 29 includes the Hughes, Rhodes, La Gorce and Pentland buildings; these will be preserved as a historic cluster and will remain in use. The Hughes and Rhodes buildings along with School of Architecture buildings 48 and 49 are currently used as administrative offices and classrooms.

Students and employees working near and within the complex have not been negatively impacted by the project.

“I asked one of the construction workers what was happening because I was curious, but the construction hasn’t really impacted me,” said Annie George, project director for the Back on Track Study in the Psychology Department. George has worked in the Rhodes house for 13 years.

Although immediate restoration plans will introduce greenery, trees, walkways and irrigation, UM’s master plan considers this area the future site of both academic and housing buildings that will meet the needs of today’s students.

“I was sad to see them go, but they were kind of really old though. And I know some others weren’t as nice as ours,” said senior Katharine Woodward, who used to live in the apartments.

Jonathan Borge may be contacted at jborge@themiamihurricane.com.