Distrikt Hotel houses students until Keystone Flats is complete


Photo by Gracey Evans

Shay McWeeney, sophomore acting major, poses in her hotel room at Distrikt Hotel. Her suitcases can be found packed to capacity on top of her bureau. McWeeney has made her room her own personalized space, and has decorated her desk and television with pictures to resemble a dorm.

Written By Nardos Haile, For The Globe

An unfinished Third Avenue student housing project has forced about 100 Point Park University students to live in hotel rooms for the past three weeks.

Since the beginning of August, students have been staying in the Distrikt Hotel, located a few blocks from Point Park University’s campus, since construction delays on the Keystone Flats may not be finished until the end of

“It’s kinda annoying because there’s a sense of living on your own and right now we’re all just like pushed off to the side,” sophomore Amanda Means said. “Like we don’t really exist in the school culture because we’re up the street; we don’t know what’s going on.”

Means, whose major is undecided, is one of many students displaced and living in a hotel. She says she knew the building was unfinished, “but not to the extent that it is.”

“They promoted it like it would’ve been done by the time we all got back to school,” Means said.

The Keystone Flats management declined to comment on this story.

“I feel fine about it. Some people are really mad, and some people are like me and don’t really care,” sophomore acting major Mary Shay McWeeney said.   

“I mean it is a little annoying and I expected to be in an apartment. I chose to live in an apartment; I didn’t want to live in a dorm. But the woman who we’ve been in conversation with has made it very clear. She’s been extremely open to all of our requests and all of our complaints.”

For students like Means who came back to campus earlier than most for sports, it was an inconvenience.

“For me, the first two weeks I get here early because I play soccer,” Means said. “So, the first two weeks I knew I was going to have to live somewhere else because it wasn’t going to be ready.” 

   Means, McWeeney, and the other students were told by management in mid-July the building would not be ready until September.

“They said we are working on getting you a food stipend at Point Park University; you are booked at the Distrikt Hotel, which is a couple blocks from campus,” McWeeney said. “You are going to be getting free breakfast in the mornings, and since the apartment comes with in unit laundry, they also have provided a once-a-week laundry service.”

Students have been living in one bedroom hotel rooms paid by their monthly rent and described by both Means and McWeeney as “small and crowded.”

“A bed and a bathroom and there’s like a little desk and a closet but it’s not very big,” Means said.

The living situation is much more difficult for students who live further away.

“I live an hour away,” Means said. “I’d say it makes it easier because they [her parents] can help me out if I need something, but people that live in different states – they have all that stuff shoved in a small room.”

McWeeney, originally from California, mentions her and a friend’s seasonal belongings were put into a storage unit before the summer began, but they have had to extend payment on the unit because of the unfinished housing.

“I mean I could put all the stuff in my hotel room, but it’s too small, and I don’t want to be any more crowded than I already am,” McWeeney said.

But McWeeney expressed she is understanding of her circumstances.

“They [the Distrikt] feel extremely frustrated as well,” McWeeney said. “It doesn’t feel like they’re screwing us over, it just feels like nobody wanted this. Even the tippy top people at this company that own this building, they’re really frustrated.”

Public record says the Keystone Flats on Third Ave is owned by BT Pitt Third LLC, a subsidiary of BET Investments one of the country’s largest home builders. In 2016 BET Investments bought the building and a year later the Pittsburgh Business Times reported that BET Investments had begun demolition over the summer and was planning to hire a construction company.

In late April of this year, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported there were four endangered peregrine falcon birds on the roof of the building and renovations of the building had to be shutdown. The developers secured permits and removed the birds, which had halted construction for weeks. 

Means says she has grown to accept her living arrangement, but it’s the lack of independence that is the real issue.

“That was the only thing I was really excited about, to live in my own place with a roommate, have a kitchen and be able to do everything I want in my own area and now it just keeps on getting dragged out, so I have to live in a hotel and do laundry and take it down the street,” Means said. “It’s just a lot of extra work, like it takes up a lot of time.”

McWeeney mentions small inconveniences as well, but has been trying to stay positive.

“It’s like a bad situation all around but you just have to be like alright this is what it is,” McWeeney said. “We’ll live. We’ll be fine.”

“I don’t think it looks good, to be honest,” Amanda Anderson, Director of Student Life, said. “But at the same time, they seem to be doing the best they can as far as taking care of – at least to my knowledge – with providing them [the students] with a place to be, food and those types of things.”

Anderson is responsible for the areas of residence life off and on campus. All potential housing on campus is currently full.

“If we can [help], we will,” Anderson said. “If anybody who had received that information wanted to move onto campus, we would have definitely accepted their contract and tried to find them a space, but I don’t know if we had any of those or not, but that would’ve been our protocol.”

According to Anderson, the slow construction could have happened to anyone.

“It’s a risk of construction, it’s the risk of filling a building before you have it secured,” Anderson said. “It’s definitely a risk anybody who’s doing student housing takes, especially if they try to fill the building prior to it being finished.”