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Legacy Square condos not open to students

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, February 1, 2011

While the controversial Legacy Square condominium project will continue, its future occupants will not be Notre Dame students, as originally planned.

According to student body president Catherine Soler, the condominiums will be finished and marketed to owner-occupants, not for lease to students.

“The concern [of the community] was if they were marketed to students and if the students would be held to the leases they had signed,” Soler said.

She attended a meeting Jan. 25 at the Robinson Community Learning Center with developer Robert Cimala, the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization (NNRO) and the Northeast Neighborhood Council (NENC).

An e—mail was sent this week by Cimala to students who had signed leases with Legacy Square saying they were no longer held to their leases, Soler said.

Soler said she became aware of the growing problems with the development through NENC meetings. Nick Ruof, student government chief of staff, is a member of the NENC, and he attends meetings of the council.

“Student government has been advocating for students in the community,” Soler said.

Soler said student government used University contacts to find out more information and talked to students about the problems. She was invited to the meeting, which was held by the developer to answer community questions and give a presentation.

At the meeting the developer outlined his future plans for the project, which do not involve student tenants, but rather owner—occupants.

The project initially began in 2007, when plans were drawn and work began on building. The zoning for the land was changed from Single Family (SF2) zoning to Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning to allow for more freedom in construction and design.

The project was put on hold due to funding problems, Cimala told The Observer in December. Work continued at the start of this academic year, and foundations were poured while the developers waited for final site approval.

Bill Stenz, president of the NENC, said in December that the NENC and NNRO were told originally by Cimala that Legacy Square would be marketed to young professionals and Notre Dame alumni — not students.

“No one minds having one or two student houses near you,” Stenz told The Observer in December. “[Where there are more than one or two student houses] there’s no one there to address it or clean it in the summer. There’s no regular lawn maintenance.”

The Legacy Square development became controversial when the developer applied for final site plan approval and was sent to a Dec. 21 public hearing of the Area Plan Commission (APC). Around the same time as the meeting, it was discovered Cimala was creating leases for students for housing during the 2011—12 school year.

The final site plan was denied secondary approval by the APC, which stated the current plans did not meet the original PUD zoning for the site.

At the Dec. 21 meeting, the community voiced opinions about the project, and most viewed the project as detrimental to the neighborhood.

“This plan is not creative or innovative,” Dick Nesbaum, NNRO attorney, said at the December meeting. “It is more of the same. This is a negative impact on the neighborhood.”