San Marcos issues temporary permit for Vie Lofts, allowing 89 of 162 evacuated students to return

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The mandatory evacuation order for the student apartment complex Vie Lofts in San Marcos has been lifted, and some students will be allowed to move back in.

The Sept. 27 announcement came a week after the San Marcos fire marshal required the evacuation of 162 residents, citing “unsafe conditions that include, but were not limited to: inadequate means of egress which were due to inadequate maintenance,” according to a release from the city.

The residents are being allowed back in after a report from an independent engineering firm determined the overall structure of the building was not “damaged or distressed,” according to the city’s release. The findings also concluded that parts of one of the stairwells will have to be torn down and reconstructed.

The city stated that a temporary certificate of occupancy was issued with the contingency that the company “be required to finish addressing any outstanding building punch list items that were not required to be completed prior to the temporary certificate of occupancy being issued and provide a permanent solution for the elevator operation.” The release also noted that remodeling of the clubhouse, fitness and study areas had begun without a permit.

Vie Management co-founder Derrick Milam specified in a statement emailed to Community Impact Newspaper that not all residents would be allowed back right away.

“The city is allowing some residents to move home,” Milam said in the statement. “At this time they have split floors three through six and are allowing 89 residents to move back in. The reason for this split is a concern with one of the stairwells, and they are requiring that we fix this stairwell before the entire building is reopened.”
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Residents who do not move back will need to stay in temporary lodging for three to four weeks, Milam said, but some may be able to be placed with a roommate in the parts of the building that are reopened.

“All immediate life safety hazards as identified by our city team have been addressed and repaired,” Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said in the release from the city. “All fire safety systems have passed inspection as well as the elevator being back in operation and having increased safety measures in place for its use. We’ve worked cooperatively with Vie Lofts ownership and appreciate their diligent efforts to provide a safe place for residents to return.”

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Katharine Jose has written about politics, infrastructure, environment, development, natural disasters and other subjects for The New York Observer, Capital New York, and The New York Times, among other publications. She was an editor for several publications in New York City before she moved to Texas, and has a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Texas-Austin.
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