It’s one of the newer UMKC dorms, but now more than 200 students have to move out

Leaky water pipes have forced UMKC to shut down a section of Oak Place Apartments and students will have to move.
Leaky water pipes have forced UMKC to shut down a section of Oak Place Apartments and students will have to move. UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is relocating more than 200 students because of water damage to one of the school’s newest residence halls.

The university’s Residence Life office noticed a pattern of complaints this year from students living in the Oak Place Apartments about water leaks and damage to walls and flooring. It ordered a building inspection to identify the problem.

“We found a large number of leaking pipes in the building,” said John Martellaro, university spokesman.

The first step was some short-term repairs to stop leaks. That put residents out of their apartments for about four hours.

Now university officials are preparing to fix the water damage from the leaking pipes and that, Martellaro said, is a far more extensive effort.

It means in January, 212 students will have to find someplace else to live during the spring semester.

Oak Place, designed to accommodate upperclassmen and graduate students, consists of two four-story apartment complexes separated by an above-ground parking structure. It houses about 500 students in one-, two- and four-bedroom suite-style apartments.

The university will work on the north wing of the building during the spring and reserve work on the south wing for during the summer when there are fewer students living on campus. In addition to fixing walls and floors, university officials are looking at doing some repairs to cabinets in the living areas and sprucing up other areas.

UMKC officials expect the building to be in full use for the fall 2018 school semester

Students living in the north wing will be notified of their spring housing during the first week of December. The university is helping students find other housing either on campus or in off-campus units owned by the university.

Students opting to terminate their university housing contract to hunt down other living arrangements won’t be charged the normal contract severing fees.

“No one will be charged anything additional,” for their housing due to relocation because of the water leak problems at Oak Place, Martellaro said. Moving crews will be made available to help students relocate.

“We are still investigating the root cause of this problem, which we believe stems from the original construction before UMKC purchased the building,” Interim Chancellor and provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer said in an email to students, faculty and staff.

“We evaluated every possible scenario with the goal of minimizing disruption to students while we remediate the damage to the facility in a timely manner,” she said.

Oak Place Apartments, on the west side of Oak Street adjacent to where a new Whole Foods store is being built, opened in 2008.

It was constructed on land once occupied by Twin Oaks Apartments demolished in 2007. It is one of the university’s three newest on-campus living options located on a stretch of Oak Street between Volker Boulevard and 51st Street.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc