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Elmira Jeffries contract still in limbo

An email was sent warning students not to book rooms.

The future of the Elmira Jeffries apartment complex is in a state of uncertainty after student residents were warned not to book future rooms in the complex pending the closure of an agreement between the university and the complex’s owners. 

Temple officials said they cannot confirm the status of Elmira Jeffries, a privately-owned building located on the corner of 15th and Jefferson streets that is leased to students through University Housing and Residential Life.

Owned by the Philadelphia Management Corporation, Elmira Jeffries operates on a contract that, until now, has been renewed annually in time for student housing selection.

Elmira Jeffries houses 140 upperclassmen and transfer students. The complex served as a nursing home until September 2002.

An email was sent to students searching for on-campus housing for next year notifying them that Elmira Jeffries would not be available for selection, just one day before the Student Web Self-Assign process opened on Feb. 25.

“Unfortunately, as of the writing of this message, the lease agreement between Temple University and the property management company that owns and operates the Elmira Jeffries apartment complex has not been completed,” Temple’s Associate Director of Assignments and Billing Sean Killion said in the email.

Despite the email, no final decision has been made on the future of the complex, which mainly serves as a home to sophomores and upperclassmen.

“It would be premature for me to speak about this issue because negotiations are ongoing,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs – Divisional Services Michael Scales said in an email.

The university had a similar one-year contract with The Edge at Avenue North, which opened in 2006. Temple opted not to renew its contract and severed ties with the complex at the end of the Spring 2013 semester. University officials said the opening of more than 1,200 new beds inside the new Morgan Hall was the main factor for the decision.

There has been no word yet on the reasons for the halted contract renewal for Elmira Jeffries, but current residents said they have been kept in the dark.

“I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a secret or what,” sophomore advertising major Michelle Bouh said. “I haven’t heard anything [from the university]. A friend of mine told me [Elmira Jefferies] is going to become its own place next year and it caught me off-guard.”

Sophomore exercise science major Angela Shelly said the absence of Elmira Jeffries as a student housing option would be a disadvantage.

“I think it’s a bad move,” Shelly said. “EJ is secluded so it’s perfect for peace and quiet. [This decision would] push students to move into the new, more expensive housing Temple offers.”

Bouh said she wouldn’t be surprised if the contract ended due to her perception of Temple overlooking the off-campus complex.

“EJ always gets the short end of the stick,” Bouh said. “Even though they’re part of housing, they’re not. You walk into 1940 and Morgan Hall and they feel like dorms. EJ still feels like a nursing home.”

Both Bouh and Shelly said Elmira Jeffries would serve as competition to Temple if they lease to students independent of the university.

“The setup is ideal,” Bouh said. “The rooms are huge and you get your own bathroom. Everything is so big and so spacious. If these were single rooms, it would be over for Temple housing.”

Jessica Smith can be reach at              jessicasmith@temple.edu. 

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