Observatory Lodge, a 34-unit apartment building operated by University Housing, will be vacated by mid-December to allow for immediate renovation. The building will be closed to residents for an indefinite period.

Paul Wong
Observatory Lodge, an apartment building operated by the University located at the corner of Washington Heights, will undergo renovation in December.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

“A series of inspections and facilities assessments were conducted and determined that the electrical systems and fire safety systems were below an acceptable safety and risk management standard,” said University Housing Director William Zeller.

Until it is fully vacated, University Housing Security will maintain a 24-hour fire watch on the building. The building will reopen to residents once renovations are complete.

Notified of the move-out situation in early October, residents were given the choice to either move into Northwood Family Housing, located on North Campus, or find their own off-campus housing. University Housing informed residents that they must vacate the building by Dec. 15.

But Observatory Lodge resident and Rackham student Khaled Al-Masri felt that the notice came too late into the term and interfered with exams.

“I think we were not given enough time to prepare for this. At this time of year, the chances of finding good housing are very slim. Most off-campus housing is very expensive and not good,” Al-Masri said.

“I spent at least three or four weeks calling, looking for places, when I could have been studying. I don”t understand why they chose that date. It”s a very bad time,” said Al-Masri.

“The date of December 15 was determined upon our ability to offer alternative apartment housing to Observatory Lodge residents,” Zeller said.

“We knew that by December 15 we would have enough vacancies in Family Housing to offer everyone an apartment,” he added.

Although University Housing will pay for residents” moving expenses, they will not cover the cost of telephone services for those who opt for off-campus housing.

“I”m very sad to leave this place. I understand it is for safety reasons, but I wish (the University) would have provided us with more help. By help, I mean financial help,” Al-Masri said.

Observatory Lodge, which currently houses 19 students, faculty and retirees, was built in 1930. It is located adjacent to the School of Public Health.

The building also contains a small research unit that is part of the School of Public Health”s Department of Epidemiology. Research study coordinator Natalie Dubov said that despite the building”s persistent water leakage problems, she is hesitant to leave.

“One day we came in and the computers were completely covered with water,” Dubov said. “But we love this building and do not want to leave. It is so nice and quiet here.”

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