They call it the “roach drawer.” The kitchen drawer closest to the refrigerator always has roaches in it. Asked when the roaches started appearing, Chloe Devre said with a serious look, “The day we moved in. We open drawers in the kitchen and they just scatter.”
Terminix has been called to the 5-bedroom unit at The Standard, an off campus apartment building on Spring Street in Midtown, to no apparent avail. On a recent Saturday, roaches were observed by this reporter just as Devre and Gracie Rheberg, both 21 and students at Georgia Tech, described it.
The young women are two of five students who occupy the unit, and they said the roaches are far from the only issue at The Standard.
On a mild autumn afternoon, the cooler temperature outside did nothing to temper the difference in air quality inside the apartment. From the hallway into the apartment, there was an immediate change from free-flowing air to a more stagnant, stale feel. The windows at The Standard do not open, presumably for security reasons. I also noted that only one elevator was working that day in the building.
Devre and Rheberg’s unit has mold growing in several places, including the shared living room, in closets and the individual bedrooms. There’s even mold on the arm of the couch by the window.
The air conditioning in the apartment does not work. It hasn’t worked the entire time they have been living in the unit. “I have woken up in a sweat because of how hot it has been in here,” said Rheberg, who admitted she sometimes props open the apartment door in order to get some fresh air from the hallway.
While I was there a blower, the type used to dry floors. was being used to keep air circulating in the living room. A humidifier was attempting to do the same in one of the bedrooms. The equipment was placed there by building management until the air conditioning is fixed, but has offered little relief. The lack of adequate circulation in the apartment has led to Devre developing respiratory issues.
The following Monday, there was a scheduled fogging of the apartment in order to kill the roaches. There are also plans to have someone come in and check the air quality. Management also offered to put the five students in a hotel. “That wouldn’t make up for the past five months,” Rheberg said.
Rheberg, Devre, and their roommates pay a combined $1,380 per month in rent. The average rent in Midtown is just over $1,800, according to rentcafe.com, a nationwide apartment listing service.
The Standard, a 275-unit, 765-bed student housing building, opened in 2018 and offers views of Bobby Dodd Stadium on game days, a pool on an outdoor terrace, a gym, computer lounge, clubhouse, and a Starbucks on the ground floor.
The Standard is owned by Landmark Properties, an Athens-based real estate firm with rental properties across the country, including in California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas. The majority of the properties are off-campus housing for students at some of the largest college towns in America: Athens, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon, to name a few.
With the pressures of being students at one of the premier engineering schools in the country, both Rheberg and Devre said unhealthy conditions at The Standard has caused anxiety. The lack of response from management has compounded that.
“When you talk to them they don’t get the urgency,” Rheberg said of the building management. “These issues wouldn’t happen at a regular apartment complex. They are preying on our youth and being so busy.”
When this lease ends next August, Devre said she won’t be back. Scheduled to graduate in the spring, she wants to pursue her master’s degree at Georgia Tech, but says she will have to find another place to live unless “major changes” take place.
“They would have to let me hire a third-party to check for roaches, check the air quality and air ducts,” Devre said.
Rheberg, who will be coming back for her senior year, agreed. “I might move to a house in the area or choose another company with property in the area.”
On Oct. 10, Landmark Properties Director of Public Relations Kelly Gray responded to the emails and phone calls Atlanta Intown made over the weekend and on Monday in regard to the issues at The Standard. This is the statement in full:
“The Standard at Atlanta management team has been actively working with residents to identify and remedy all reported issues as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we have been providing temporary solutions for residents, including compensation and offering alternative accommodations to impacted residents. The comfort and well-being of our residents is our highest priority, and we are taking steps to provide the experience our residents expect.”
According to Devre and Rheberg the “compensation” consisted of a $300 digital gift card that was redeemable at retailers. The girls weren’t sure how this would help with rent. “I guess I could buy a new pair of sneakers or something,” Rheberg joked. “Still doesn’t make it any easier to breathe in our apartment.”