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YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY Developer to stay on project despite allegations



Published: Sun, July 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Construction on YSU's $18 million apartment complex project will start in September.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The developer of a proposed student apartment complex at Youngstown State University is in no jeopardy of losing the job because of accusations it shortchanged workers' wages and allowed minors on the work site at a similar project at Ohio University, a YSU official said.

But that doesn't mean YSU officials are pleased with the publicity the developer is receiving.

Rea Contractors Inc., the company handling the OU job, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ambling Companies Inc. of Valdosta, Ga., which is developing YSU's $18 million project. The 400-bed complex at YSU is modeled after the OU project.

"This doesn't change anything with our project, but we'd certainly prefer there wasn't this bad press," said K.J. Satrum, YSU executive director of student services. "Who wants that? We don't welcome it. But we're doing everything we can to make sure our project is done correctly."

Company officials have denied the allegations, including claims that children worked on the project. Satrum said she called company officials after reading media reports about the OU project.

"I asked them to respond to the allegations," she said. "They told me workers brought their children to the work site and they were told to remove them."

Not worried: Satrum said she is not concerned that there will be any problems with the YSU project because local trade unions will take an active role, and Ambling will use a local company as general contractor for the job.

"We're certain we're not going to have the same problems that OU is evidently experiencing," she said.

YSU trustees selected Ambling after interviewing four development companies. Ambling has built student apartment complexes at several universities, including Marshall, Texas Southern, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware and Florida A & amp;M.

Construction is to begin in September on 15 acres around Wick Oval, with a fall 2002 completion date. YSU will create a nonprofit corporation to shoulder the full liability for the project and contract with Ambling to build and manage the apartments. That will keep the debt off YSU's financial balance sheet.

The project will include three buildings, with two- and four-bedroom apartments. Monthly rent will be $430 per bedroom in the four-bedroom apartments and $480 per bedroom in the two-bedroom apartments. Utilities will be included in the rental fee.

skolnick@vindy.com




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