Students still waiting to move in to SkyVue Apartments


The 14-floor building, geared towards students and young professionals, opened in summer 2016 and features about 400 apartments. Madison Holden / Staff Photographer.

By Lauren Rosenblatt / News Editor

When Varun Kumar gets home from class, he fishes his keycard out of his wallet or pocket and slides it through a digital slot in the door to his home.

But Kumar isn’t letting himself into a residence hall dorm or a house in South Oakland — he’s at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center. The hotel has been his home for about 30 days and will continue to be well into September.

Kumar, a senior finance major, did not plan to spend his final year at Pitt dining on hotel breakfasts and living from a few suitcases. Up until July, he was planning on moving into SkyVue Apartments, a new apartment complex between Halket Street and Craft Avenue on Forbes Avenue, at the beginning of August — then the company said there had been delays in construction.

“Overall, they are compensating us, but the inconvenience is still pretty frustrating. It’s very nebulous [as to] when it’s going to actually be completed,” Kumar said.

Kumar, who is now set to move in Sept. 22, will be living on floor eight of the 14-story building at 3333 Forbes Ave. that offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and boasts a number of amenities, including a gym, outdoor deck, upper-level lounges and grilling stations.

The University has leased the first few floors of the building as University housing, which were ready for move-in when students arrived, but the other floors are available to students or other community members to lease independently.

SkyVue Apartments has other complexes near college campuses around the country, including Michigan State University.

Denissa Visconti, community manager for SkyVue Apartments who was authorized to speak for the company, said only three floors are available because the construction of the other floors took longer than expected. She said there is no set date for when the entire building will be done, but they plan to open a new floor each week for the next three weeks.

“It’s construction — you can never predict what’s going to happen in construction,” she said. “We are prepared. You always have to be prepared.”

The company offered residents a “contingency plan,” but Visconti would not disclose the details of that plan because of confidentiality concerns. She said residents “are not asked to pay for anything” at the hotels or for moving and storage services.

The company offered students three options for living arrangements while they waited for their rooms, according to Kumar: finding their own accommodations and receiving a discounted rent price for their SkyVue room, staying in a free hotel room while receiving a lower rate for their SkyVue room or getting out of their lease.

The hotel options included the Wyndham, the Hilton Garden Inn and the SpringHill Suites in the South Side. The company also offered meal vouchers and breakfast coupons for students temporarily living in hotels.

Monaco and her roommates normally pay $690 each per month, splitting the rent three ways for a two bedroom apartment. In September, because of the delay, they are paying only $619.50 all together.

“We made sure our No. 1 focus is our residents, and as far as that, we haven’t really had any issues or complaints since we’re taking care of everyone,” Visconti said. “I asked them flat out, ‘How’s your apartment, do you love it here, are you excited to be here’ … and I cannot tell you the number of students and parents that said this was worth the wait.”

Pitt students Sonam Govani and Amanda Monaco moved into their SkyVue apartment on Saturday, Aug. 27, two days before the first day of classes. Even though they were able to move in, the roommates said continued construction made setting up a hassle.

Govani, a senior economics major, moved in on the first day of classes because of her travel schedule. While moving her belongings from her South Side storage unit to the apartment between her 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. classes, the elevators broke.

“The movers were carrying my stuff up the stairs. Meanwhile, [Monaco’s] straightening her hair in the kitchen because the outlet doesn’t work in the bathroom,” Govani said.

Monaco, a senior studying communication science and disorders, said the room came with a few faults, such as broken outlets, misplaced floorboards and dings in the wall. Although it looked as if the apartment had been “thrown together,” she said it still beats South Oakland housing.

“I think by the end of September, it’ll be fine,” she said. “We have a safe, secure place to put our heads at night. It’s got a little construction dust, but other than that, it’s clean.”

While living at the Wyndham, Kumar said the company has sent out weekly emails describing updates on the construction, which he said are nice, but he would prefer to hear that his room is ready.

“They’ve been apologetic. On one hand I feel a little bit bad for the staff there — undoubtedly, they are getting screamed at by parents,” Kumar said. “But at the same time, they have not been completely transparent about this.”

Originally, Kumar planned to live with two friends, but one backed out of signing the lease for fear the apartment would not be done in time. Although Kumar chose to stay in the lease, the experience has made him question his decision.

“I’d say I was new to this, and maybe I wouldn’t choose SkyVue if I knew this was going to happen eight months ago,” Kumar said.