Dobie Center

Pointe on Rio remains under construction and the move-in date has been pushed to Jan. 10 instead of Oct. 15. Leaseholders were given the option to cancel their lease. 

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

The already delayed move-in date for future Pointe on Rio residents has been moved from October to January, according to an email sent to leaseholders Friday.

This is the second time the complex’s move-in day has been changed. On July 24, leaseholders at Pointe received an email that said the building’s construction would not be complete for the original move-in date on Aug. 16. Pointe officials scheduled the new date to Oct. 15 and gave residents the option to either stay at Dobie Center rent-free or find self-financed outside housing until then.

Now, residents are being told that the building will not be ready for move-in until January, according to the Sept. 19 email.

T’Erra Brown, psychology sophomore and Pointe leaseholder currently living at Dobie, said she was not surprised by the further delay.

“When I walked past the apartment a couple times, there was really no one over there working,” Brown said. “They’d be there every few days. I’m not shocked. I’m upset, but I’m not really shocked.”

The email attributes the delay to “city inspections and unforeseen construction delays.”

Heather Cox, Pointe on Rio manager, declined to comment about the second delay.

In Friday’s email the leaseholders were offered three options: to continue Dobie accommodations, including 25 meals a month and a parking spot, to continue staying at housing outside of Dobie until the complex’s completion, or to cancel their lease with Pointe.

According to the email, if leaseholders decide to cancel their lease, it must be done by Oct. 21.

Toni Tatarevich, corporate communications senior and leaseholder at Pointe, said she feels the management is doing their best in a tough situation, but that their communication is inefficient.

“I think it’s more of a corporate problem that this place isn’t finished,” Tatarevich said.  “But it’s a great inconvenience because obviously I expected to have my own room, my own place, my own privacy, and that has not been fulfilled by the Pointe on Rio.”

Tatarevich said she plans to continue staying at Dobie, since Pointe is paying the rent, but is worried that the building will not be ready for move-in by January.

“My concern is what if they keep extending this deadline and I never get to live there?” Tatarevich said. “That’s what I keep thinking. How long is this going to go on? It’s just so frustrating to drive by there. Very little progress, it seems, has been made.”

Residents of Pointe on Rio, located in West Campus, expected to be able to move into their apartments by Oct. 15, but many now doubt whether the construction will be complete.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

After being unsure about their housing situation, some Pointe on Rio leaseholders say they have been told they will be without housing after Oct. 15.

Before the start of the fall semester, future residents found their complex, located at the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, still under construction. According to an email sent on July 24, the building was supposed to be completed by Aug. 16, but construction was delayed. In the email, the future residents were told the building would be ready for move in by Oct. 15.

Future residents were offered two options for living arrangements: They could opt to stay at Dobie Center with rent covered by the Pointe on Rio, or they could stay in self-funded outside housing.

Former UT student Sam Antonio, who purchased a lease at the complex and is now staying at a friend’s apartment, said Pointe leasing agents began contacting residents last week informing them that construction will most likely not be complete by October.

“Finally, last week, a Pointe staff called to inquire about my plans post Oct. 15,” Antonio said in an email. “I told him it was hard to have a clear idea without a set target date. I also told him I was open to any option whether it be staying at Pointe-provided housing or just terminating my lease altogether.”

Oscar Becerra, government sophomore and leaseholder at the complex, said he learned construction would likely not be completed by October because he directly asked a Pointe on Rio employee.

“My roommates are also Pointe residents, and they were not aware that the construction is still going to go past October,” Becerra said.

Becerra said he was told their housing would be covered while they lived in Dobie Center — even after Oct. 15.

“They offered to continue paying our rent here at Dobie as long as we don’t get off the contract, because after Oct. 15 we are allowed to get off the contract,” Becerra said. “I feel like they are really inconsistent with their word, but at the same time they are giving us the convenience of providing free housing for us.”

Heather Cox, Pointe on Rio manager, declined to comment but said they hope to make an official announcement about the construction this week.

Sociology senior Chelsea Ebert, who is a leaseholder and former employee at Pointe on Rio, said she plans to sign on another lease before Oct. 15, like some other displaced residents. Ebert, who is currently staying at Dobie, said she is confident the building will not be finished in a month.

If Pointe on Rio is completed by Oct. 15, Ebert said she will be bound to two leases.

“A lot of places have already filled to capacity, so, if I don’t sign a lease soon, I’m at risk of living 30 minutes away from campus in Round Rock or Westlake or somewhere,” Ebert said. 

Ebert met with a University attorney earlier in September, but they found no way out of the lease.

“As far as the actual legal document goes, there’s no way I could have gotten out of it at that point because they protected themselves with this lease,” Ebert said. “They put clauses in there just in case this happened.”

Pointe On Rio, located in West Campus, remains under construction despite promises to residents that work would be completed by Aug. 16. Displaced residents have been given the option of temporary housing at Dobie Center or compensation for monthly rent until completion.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

After a new apartment complex in West Campus delayed its opening and was unable to open in time for the fall semester, ongoing construction on the Pointe on Rio leaves residents unsure of their housing arrangements come October.

Located on Rio Grande Street, the complex was scheduled to be complete and ready for move in Aug. 16, according to Daniel Gonzalez, international relations and global studies sophomore, who signed a lease at the complex. On July 24, residents received an email from Asset Campus Housing saying the building would not be completed before the start of the fall semester, but it would be finished by Oct. 15 at the latest.

“I signed my lease very late, probably not until March or April,” Gonzalez said. “They told me the apartment would be ready by Aug. 16, and I have a feeling that at that time they understood it wouldn’t be completed by then.”

Chelsea Ebert, a former Pointe On Rio employee and sociology senior, said she quit her job because she felt the management was inadequate and dishonest to customers.

“I knew that the construction wasn’t going to be done on time looking at it,” Ebert said. “It was common sense. When people would come in asking about it, like parents wondering about it, all they would tell us to say is, ‘Yeah, we’re having a construction meeting so-and-so day. It looks like we are going to be complete on time.’”

Toni Tatarevich, a corporate communications senior who signed a lease with Pointe On Rio, said the apartment is still just a frame of a building.

“There’s not any brick on it yet, but, of course, I’m kind of like, ‘How much can you do in two months?’” Tatarevich said. “Obviously, they still have to put in all the appliances and walls, and stuff like that. It makes me a little bit uneasy but also keeping my fingers crossed.”

Heather Cox, an Asset Campus Housing representative, denied to comment on the lack of housing for students. In the email sent to its future residents July 24, Asset Campus Housing outlined two alternative options for housing — stay at the Dobie Center off-campus residence hall or receive a rent abatement worth twice the amount of their daily rent and stay at outside housing. The email did not specify where students would live after Oct. 15 if the complex is still not finished.

Jonathan Pena, a marketing senior who signed a lease at the complex, said he would rather not be living in a dorm but appreciates the management’s accommodations.

“I’m definitely not too happy about being back in a dorm, but the management is being really unselfish,” Pena said. “They’re the ones paying for our dorm here at Dobie. They got us a meal plan to cover 25 meals for us. They got a parking spot here at Dobie.”

According to Ebert, the lease can be dropped on Oct. 15, but, for the time being, she said it is not realistic to cancel the contract.

“The only way they’re letting us out of our lease is if we pay a $500 cancellation fee and then, on top of that, we find someone to sublease our apartment,” Ebert said.

Pena met with the apartment’s management Aug. 27 but said he was still uncertain about if they would be ready in October for move in.

“They’re hoping everything will be ready in time for Oct. 15, but it’s still not really 100 percent sure that it’s going to happen,” 

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

Change is coming to the Dobie Center and its former theater.

Months after announcing the off-campus residence hall would undergo a $4 million renovation for the fall semester, the Carlton Group, which owns Dobie, announced Campus Evolution Villages will now manage the off-campus residence hall in July.

“Dobie Center is ideally located at the edge of the campus and has always been the go-to property for students from around the country and the world attending UT-Austin and the renovations have catapulted the property back to the forefront,” Andrew Stark, Campus Evolution Villages CEO, said in a statement.

The Carlton Group also announced the former Dobie Center Theater space will be reconfigured by Regus, a company that creates workspaces, into a study and collaboration space for students, faculty and business professionals. The new center will offer updated furnishings, high-speed Internet, printing centers, meeting areas and a 24-hour accessible concierge.   

The space will be open to various companies, firms and industries affiliated with the University. The budget for the new center is over $100 per foot in renovations to be invested by the new tenant.

The theater closed in 2010 and has been inactive ever since. Howard Michaels, Carlton Group CEO, said although he is sad to see any potential of its revivial come to an end, he is excited for Regus Center to come to a location across from the UT campus. 

“Our first priority at Dobie is to provide our students with a great living experience and to also provide a nurturing environment which the Regus suits will facilitate,” Michaels said.

The new addition to Dobie will include executive suits for international companies seeking to do business with the campus. There will also be public and private workspaces for students in addition to student lounges for working on group projects or hosting study groups. 

Expected to be completed by the end of the year, the Regus facility will be open to all students. The center is aimed to reach completion by the end of 2014.

“We are looking forward to providing their wonderful services for all of University of Texas to enjoy,” Michaels said.

Machelle Ralls, Dobie Center general manager, said the new Regus Center will include presentation areas, business hotspots and video conferencing.

“The Regus Center will be a great amenity for the Dobie students and UT students and faculty who live off campus and need a place to work or study in between classes,” Ralls said.

The new Regus Center will be accessible from street level and will overlook Guadalupe Street.

Austin Police Department officers responded to a burglary theft call Thursday at Dobie Center after two residents reported a man leaving their room.

The incident occurred at approximately 9:18 p.m. Two residents left their door propped open with the deadbolt while they went to visit another room, an APD spokeswoman said.

When the two returned they saw a white male exiting the room. He reportedly said he was looking for a set of keys. The residents returned to their room and reported that some money was missing.

The case is still being investigated.

Austin Police Department officers responded to a 9-1-1 call Sunday reporting a deceased person in a parking garage near the Dobie Center.

The call was placed at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday reporting a dead body spotted at 2000 Whitis Avenue, said APD spokesman Anthony Hipolito. Hipolito said that the incident is under investigation by homicide detectives from APD.

Hipolito did not give any more information about the deceased person, and the detectives investigating the case were not available for comment as of Monday. UT Police Department Capt. Julie Gillespie said that UTPD had not been notified of any deceased person report near campus as of Monday afternoon.

Anya Cranmer, electrical engineering sophomore and Dobie Center resident, said she was alerted to the presence of the body on Sunday afternoon by a friend who was walking in the area.

“We walked over to the [Whitis Place Condominiums] in order to see what the situation was,” Cranmer said.

Cranmer said the deceased person appeared to be male and was approximately 40 years old.

She said there were numerous APD police cars in the vicinity, as well as a medical examiner, although she saw no representatives of UTPD. Officers had set up caution tape and were taking pictures when she passed by, Cranmer said.

She said she still felt safe living in the Dobie Center, especially because the deceased person did not appear to be a student. She also said she had been told by a resident assistant in the dormitory that the man had died of dehydration.

Printed on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 as: Body found near Dobie Center under investigation

Unexpected morning event causes University response of camaradarie, confusion

Business freshman Trevor Egan looks out of Jester Center at the line of police in front of the PCL.

Photo Credit: Caleb Bryant Miller | Daily Texan Staff

Computer science freshman Ashley McCrory got off the Forty Acres shuttle bus near Dobie Center on what she thought would be a regular Tuesday morning.

McCrory was debating whether she should return to her room at Littlefield Dormitory or go to her calculus class in Garrison Hall. She decided to go to class. At around 8:10 a.m., McCrory said she saw a masked gunman fire about five rounds in the air. She hid behind a pillar of a nearby building as she saw the man run into the Perry-Castañeda Library.

When the shooter was out of sight, McCrory approached a Dobie maintenance worker to make sure what she saw actually happened. McCrory said the armed man was wearing all black — a jacket that looked like a trench coat, and what appeared to be a ski mask. She saw him holding a long gun, which Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo later said was an AK-47.

“At first, I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’” McCrory said. “I was wondering if this was a joke — a really bad joke. You don’t expect a shooting to happen when you go out for your day.”

McCrory went to Benedict Hall, where students streamed news on their laptops to learn more about the incident.

“I was in shock until then,” McCrory said. “As more policemen came, more realizations came to me that this actually happened.”

Pre-public relations freshman Andrew McWaters and pre-journalism freshman Skylar Isdale said they heard three to four gunshots coming from behind them as they walked along 21st Street to their class at the University Teaching Center.

“We turned and we looked and saw birds flying out everywhere,” McWaters said. “We didn’t know what it was.”

Isdale said a guard led them into the lobby of the UTC. She and McWaters saw the shooter run by as they stood near the windows.

“His left arm was tucked under his jacket,” Isdale said. “He smiled at us and waved with his right hand. It was really creepy.”

On Tuesday morning, a UT student fired several rounds from an AK-47 while on campus. He later died by suicide in a campus library when police tried to apprehend him.

More police arrived on scene shortly afterward and advised students to leave the PCL and enter the nearest building because of an active shooter in the library.

“There was all of this commotion in the PCL,” said government sophomore Michael Azari, who works in the lobby of the PCL. “I thought someone had gotten into a fight. One minute later, all of these cops stormed the building and told everyone to get out.”

He said the police, armed with automatic rifles and dressed in bulletproof vests, headed toward the elevators while a few manned the doorways.

“They were surrounding the PCL and moving in as we were moving out,” he said. “Then they announced over the intercom the severity of the situation. People [were] pretty shaken up,” Azari said.

During the lockdown, Azari saw a group of students in a prayer circle at Benedict Hall led by history sophomore Rachel Tanisha Bush.

“I’ve tried to call and talk to everyone I know to make sure they are OK,” Bush said. “It just broke our hearts for this campus. There have been a lot of emotions.”

Following the incident, University officials urged students via text message and e-mail to remain indoors. The lockdown lasted nearly four hours.

Business senior lecturer Linda Gerber, who teaches an international trade class in the UTC, originally scheduled an exam Tuesday morning and went back to her office to retrieve papers.

“When I got upstairs, I saw police with assault rifles,” she said. “I was taken aback.”

The SWAT team told professors to lock their doors, and Gerber told all students to move toward the back of the room, away from windows.

“I was watching students to see how they were reacting,” Gerber said. “There were some who were unsettled by the whole thing. I think any diversion you can have is better in these situations, so we ended up watching people’s favorite YouTube videos.”

Gerber said she did not feel like she was in imminent danger, but was rattled.

“I felt very confident that it was under control,” she said. “I think police presence and direction was an important part of that. We are very fortunate that the young man did not want to harm other people, and we did very well under the circumstances.”

— Additional reporting by Daniel Sanchez