Northside Co-Op Residents to Relocate for Building Retrofits

Contact Angelica Dongallo at [email protected]





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Students living at a university co-op are gearing up to move out of their Northside home by the end of the semester so the building can be upgraded.

Casa Zimbabwe’s 124 residents will be required to move out of the co-op by Dec. 19 so seismic retrofits can begin.

The co-op is one of 20 that offer low-cost housing for students within the University Students’ Cooperative Association.

The building includes both the co-op and the USCA central offices, which are connected to the residential building.

The USCA announced that the entire structure will be upgraded to improve its seismic standing and to expand accessibility options for students with disabilities.

The retrofit is scheduled to be completed by fall 2007, at which time the house will re-open for residents and USCA personnel, association spokesperson Jennifer Heller sad.

Residents of the co-op will turn to other housing options for the upcoming semester and summer, including living in other co-ops, buying houses, renting apartments and going abroad.

In general, residents will not choose to live in the residence halls as they are approximately twice as expensive as the co-op system, Heller said.

The USCA has guaranteed housing for current Casa Zimbabwe residents at the other co-ops, which charge about the same rent, and has offered to help residents move out of the house in time for the retrofit, Heller said.

However, the closing of the co-op has already led to constraints in the system, as there will not be as many spots for new residents.

“It certainly was an abnormal semester as far as transfers go,” Heller said, pointing to the decreased number of students who were able to transfer between co-ops this semester.

Heller said the number of students being admitted into the co-ops has also decreased due to the lack of space.

Students who have chosen to leave the co-op system altogether must find their own housing options for the spring semester, which some residents said will be a challenge.

“It sucks trying to find an apartment mid-year,” said Casa Zimbabwe ethernet manager and resident William Mallard.

Many residents also said the housing situation in co-ops is unique to the system and cannot be found in the residence halls or apartments.

“The students have the opportunity to really create the culture of each co-op, and Casa Zimbabwe has a strong identity—and a strong sense of house pride,” Heller said.

Residents said they have learned a lot from living in the cooperative atmosphere and said they will be sad to move out.

“I like the idea that every single person here is a part-owner of the organization and that they all have a say about what happens,” said junior Eric Oelker, a Casa Zimbabwe resident.

Some residents acknowledged the need for the retrofits in order for the building to be seismically safe, but added that they would like to see the building preserved as much as possible.

“Our hope is that the culture will remain intact and the culture of the house is a big part of that,” said Casa Zimbabwe house manager Bryan Kett, who has been a resident of the co-op for more than three years.

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