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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Evolve terminates leases, turns apartments into condos

CW / Natalie Teat
The Evolve apartment complex is currently under renovation.

As the demand for affordable housing for UA students in Tuscaloosa increases, Evolve Tuscaloosa announced that it would be terminating most of its residents’ leases for the 2024-25 school year. 

The complex, previously owned by Article Student Living, was sold to LRC Commercial in January. According to its website, LRC Commercial “acquires and repositions underperforming Multi-Family and Self-Storage Assets.” 

The apartment complex, which will be renamed to Watercress, plans to renovate many of its apartments and turn them into condominiums. 

During the first week of February, residents were notified via email of new management taking over the complex but were assured that their leases would “remain in full force.”

Residents were placed in a “blackout period” from Feb. 5-8, during which they were unable to make payments, submit work orders or view documents online as the transition took place. 

Caitlyn Rathweg, a freshman majoring in business management, signed a lease to live at Evolve next year. She said she heard rumors about leases getting terminated before she heard anything from the complex. 

“I called probably three weeks before it was official,” Rathweg said. “I called the front desk and said, ‘Hey, I heard a rumor you guys are terminating leases,’ and he said that was not happening.” 

On Feb. 26, another email was sent to some residents that said that due to “extensive renovations,” leases for the summer and next year would be terminated and residents would have to vacate their units by May 10, about two months before 12-month leases expired in late July. 

Max Barberito, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, is a resident at Evolve. He said that the notice that his lease was being terminated felt very last-minute and left him little time to find another residence. 

“It was so late in the housing market season. It felt like places were filling up pretty quick,” Barberito said. “That immediately left a bad taste in my mouth about the place in general.”

On Feb. 29, three days after the original lease-termination email was sent, some residents who had previously renewed their leases at Evolve Tuscaloosa received another email from property manager Tanda Jackson stating that they could continue to live at Evolve for the 2024-25 school year. 

“You previously signed a renewal to remain at Evolve, and this notice is confirmation that your renewal lease, including the signed rate, for 2024-2025 was approved and is still in effect,” the email stated. “You will remain assigned to the same bedspace for the fall.” 

However, Jackson later stated that fall renewal leases were in fact canceled but that residents had the option to sign a new lease at a different rate in a new unit for an August move-in date. 

Jillian Kimrey, a sophomore majoring in public relations, signed a lease in September to live at Evolve next year. However, she plans on staying at the property and residing at Watercress.

“My roommates’ parents bought the condo, but if they would not have done that, I would have been kind of scrambling,” Kimrey said. 

Some residents believe the change is because the complex would be unable to finish renovations before the next leasing term would start.

“There is one building that they are going to keep as apartments because they can’t finish all the condos in time for August,” Kimrey said. 

Kimrey also added that she did not believe all of the condos had been sold and that “they’re not full.” 

“They knew they weren’t going to be able to sell all the condos, so they’re renovating one building at a time,” Rathweg said. 

Barberito said that even though Evolve offered to let him sign for a different unit, he will be finding a different place to live. 

“At that point, my impression of the place as a whole had completely changed,” Barberito said. “I liked it before, and it was cozy. Now, I feel like they don’t care about the people who live here; they only care about filling up units.”

Adel Fakhouri, a spokesperson for LRC Commercial, said that there is a need for housing in Tuscaloosa under $300,000 and that Watercress will aid that.

“The condos will provide great affordable options for homebuyers who may be interested in being an owner in the great city of Tuscaloosa,” Fakhouri said. “We believe we can help deliver great alternatives to renting in a beautiful and upgraded community.” 

The previous leasing price for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment at Evolve ranged from $599-$729 per bedroom.

In comparison, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo at Watercress is currently listed for purchase at $259,000. 

Watercress will feature a pickleball court, a dog park and upgrades to the pool. 

Residents said that while these amenities are nice, they do not make up for all of the other inconveniences they have had to go through. 

“They aren’t even really changing our rooms,” Kimrey said. “We’re getting new paint and ceiling fans in our bedrooms.”

On March 19, some residents received an email almost identical to the original lease termination email sent on Feb. 26, except this email provided a later required move-out date of May 31. 

Promptly, Jackson sent a disregard notice, claiming that the email was sent to residents in error. 

“The previous email sent to you on February 26th indicating that your lease is being terminated on May 10, 2024 is the correct termination date,” the email said. 

The same day, flyers from The Crimson Student Living, another apartment complex in Tuscaloosa, appeared on some residents’ doors. 

“Oh no! Did you receive that email too?” the flyer reads. “Whether you need to move in immediately or in the fall, The Crimson has a space for YOU!” 

Barberito said that before the original lease termination notice, he incorporated life at Evolve into the rest of his undergraduate career plan. 

“I planned on living here until I had to move out for grad school,” Barberito said. “This has completely changed my mind about the whole place.”

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