Jay Halling remembers cleaning the floors of the brand new Stadium Apartments with cleanser so acidic that it completely disintegrated part of his tennis shoes. This was the early 1970s when “extra strength” was no lie. Halling bore no ill will for the shoe damage and stuck with the University after graduation, becoming the operations supervisor for UMD’s housing department.
Forty years later, as Halling prepares for his retirement, Stadium Apartments are being prepared for demolition. The apartment complex that at one time was students’ number one pick for housing is coming down sometime this fall.
Why would UMD flatten a building? The answer, in a nutshell, is because there’s no other option. Code, accessibility, and trout are the trifecta that brought Stadium Apartments down.
“Back in 2008, we contracted with an architectural firm for a renovation study to see how much it would cost to bring Stadium Apartments up to code. The answer was $12-millon,” explains John Weiske, director of UMD’s housing. “We also found out that we would lose space because the bathrooms needed to be made handicapped accessible.”
So, as it stood, “Stadium Apartments had no elevators, would have fewer beds, and couldn’t accommodate freshmen,” says Weiske.
Expansion was not an option. Protected trout in nearby Tischer Creek prohibited that.
The decision was made and the slow shutdown of Stadium Apartments began. Code variances were made and the fourth floor was vacated, allowing students to stay in the apartment complex until the end of the 2013 spring semester.
As Stadium Apartments began to get phased out, Ianni Hall was constructed and opened in 2011. This new, state-of-the-art dorm met UMD’s housing needs, making Stadium Apartments obsolete. A four-decade old chapter in UMD’s story was coming to an end.
Built in 1972, Stadium Apartments featured two floors connected by a spiral staircase, single rooms, and a view of its namesake. John Kessler graduated from UMD and remembers seeing students on the upper floors, sitting on couches that had been shimmied up to window level, cheering for the home team. Now working in Facilities Management and the project manager for the demolition, Kessler is making the game plan for Stadium Apartment’s fourth quarter. “We started removing HAZMAT materials the first week of June, and we’re hoping that the demolition will happen this fall,” says Kessler.
Part of the plan is a major interception prior to reaching the landfill; all of Stadium Apartment materials are being sold or reused. “The demolition is being done as sustainable as possible,” explains Kessler. Fire alarm panels and water heaters are being re-used, cement blocks and bricks are also being ground and recycled. “UMD is doing this responsibly,” commends Mindy Granley, UMD’s Sustainability coordinator.
It’s not just the materials from Stadium Apartments that are being recycled. “We reused desks, couches, and chairs in other UMD buildings,” says Kessler. What UMD didn’t need went to those in need, “Four or five semi loads of dressers, wardrobes, coffee tables, lamps, and dining room tables went to Goodwill.” Marge Bray, executive director of Goodwill Industries, says the donation is appreciated and right on time, "The greatest impact of UMD’s donation is that the volume of goods received will provide employment and help us provide value-priced furniture for our customers throughout the winter months when incoming furniture donations are limited."
What will happen with the empty space after Stadium Apartments are history? That's still to be determined. Rebuilding so close to Tischer Creek is touchy and involves a lot of outside agencies, so it may be a while before we have the last chapter in Stadium's story. Even when that happens, because of the donation to Goodwill, the reuse of materials, and the memories of those who experienced it, Stadium Apartment's legacy will live on.
Story written by Lori C. Melton, email@example.com