Pitt students forced to abandon rented rooms at Pittsburgh Athletic Association
April 12, 2017 12:00 AM
“It is extremely frustrating to move out during finals week," Nick Logan, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, moves a cabinet from the Pittsburgh Athletic Association Building in Oakland on Wednesday. He is moving to Monroeville to live with his grandparents.
Nick Logan, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, moves a big screen TV from the Pittsburgh Athletic Association Building in Oakland on Wednesday.
The Pittsburgh Athletic Building in Oakland. Students renting rooms in the building have been without water or electricity for a week due to the building operators' failure to pay their utilities.
Dirty dishes sit in an apartment on the fourth floor inside the PAA building in Oakland, unable to be washed due to lack of water because the operators failed to pay their utilities.
Nick Keddie, 19, of Philadelphia has been showering at friends’ places and using buckets of water from the club’s swimming pool to flush the toilet.
Pitt student Nick Keddie, 19, of Philadelphia, speaks with a neighbor in the Pittsburgh Athletic Association building. Both have been without water for a week due to the operators’ failure to pay bills. The electrcity went out on Monday.
By Patricia Sabatini / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tuesday was moving day for Pitt student Nick Keddie, but it’s not how he envisioned it would be.
With just two weeks until finals, Mr. Keddie and about 20 other fellow students were forced this week to abandon the rooms they’ve been renting since last year on the fourth and fifth floors at the ailing Pittsburgh Athletic Association on Fifth Avenue in Oakland.
A week ago, the water was shut off. On Monday, the entire building went dark after the electricity went out, presumably because the club hasn’t been paying the bills.
For the past week, the students have been trying to make the best of things while they waited for word on when the water might come back on. Mr. Keddie,19, has been showering at friends’ places and using buckets of water from the club’s swimming pool to flush the toilet. With crusty dishes and garbage piling up in the shared kitchen, he has been eating meals at McDonald’s.
The scene was a striking contrast to the 109-year-old club’s glorious past, where Pittsburgh’s elite had gathered to socialize and enjoy state-of-the art athletic facilities including a gymnasium, indoor running track, fencing rooms, rifle ranges and a glass-enclosed rooftop tennis court.
When rumors circulated early this week that the doors to the aging, stately facility could be padlocked, the students decided they needed to get out.
“They just don’t care,” Mr. Keddie, a University of Pittsburgh sophomore majoring in marketing and psychology, said of the club’s management. “They don’t tell us anything.”
“It’s been such a waste of time,” he said. “I have papers to do. I couldn’t go to class because I’m evacuating.”
One of the few employees of the club milling around the dark, musty hallways on Tuesday said the facility was closed for the day, but that management was working to get the power restored.
Still, it could be lights out for good for the iconic social club.
Allegheny County court records show the association is in default on a $2.6 million mortgage it took out in 2008 from Allegheny Valley Bank. In addition, records show dozens of liens filed against the club for hundreds of thousands worth of unpaid tax and other bills.
Late last month, the county locked up the facility’s liquor and suspended its liquor license for failing to pay the county’s 7 percent drink tax.
The association’s latest publicly available 990 filing for 2015 (a report that nonprofits must submit annually to the Internal Revenue Service) shows the club was insolvent, with liabilities of $6.75 million and assets of $2.9 million.
Association president Tom Trimbur did not return a message Tuesday seeking comment. In the past, he has declined to discuss the club’s deteriorating financial condition as management contends with an aging facility and declining membership.
He has said the association was working to resolve “tax and fiscal issues” and was counting on an undisclosed amount of lease payments from an upscale hotel being built on adjacent property to ensure the club’s long-term future.
Last year, in an attempt to bring in needed revenue, the club began renting converted hotel rooms in the building to Pitt students.
Mr. Keddie said the association should refund his $400 monthly rent for April since his room, which he shared with two roommates who had already moved out, wasn’t livable.
“It’s starting to smell,” he said as he packed up a box of books.
His mother was on her way from the family’s home in Philadelphia on Tuesday to help him put his belongings in storage and find somewhere else to stay during a summer internship that begins in May.
As Mr. Keddie made his way down the wide marble stairway past the idled elevators, he passed another student refugee, piles of clothes draped over both arms.
“Have you heard anything about our rent?” Mr. Keddie asked.
“No,” the man replied. “I don’t think we’ll be getting it back. It’s probably been spent.”
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