Residents of Maguire and University Villages continuing campaign to keep their homes

Residents of Maguire and University Villages continuing campaign to keep their homes
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:35 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - With a proposed spring 2023 demolition date looming, residents and advocates of graduate housing at Maguire and University Villages are continuing to push to have the University of Florida amend current plans.

On Saturday, a mural was painted on the 34th Street graffiti wall to spread the message that residents at the complexes do not want to see the buildings demolished.

Fernando Noriega has lived at Maguire Village for three years. He and his wife plan on being done with their graduate programs before next spring, but they do not know if they will be out of their apartment before they planned demolition.

RELATED STORY: Graduate students oppose UF student housing proposal

“I think its going to be close to the time we expect to graduate so we don’t know. Maybe we will be here and be impacted, or maybe we’ll already have graduated,” said Noriega.

Ever since being made Mayor of the housing village, Derek LaMontagne has made it his mission to keep the apartments intact. During his five years as a resident, LaMontagne says he has seen residency slashed to a quarter of capacity. Despite all of the empty apartments he says residents are happy with affordable housing prices and the scenic and convenient location of his home.

“This is the happiest place to live according to UF’s own data on campus, so why they would knock these down is really just a big loss,” said LaMontagne.

The group Save UF Grad housing has a petition to save the complexes, but amid uncertainty LaMontagne says he will continue the fight in the hopes that other graduate students will get to experience this affordable and eclectic residence.

“We shouldn’t be living like we have a gun to our heads. Like this is the ultimatum, this is the deadline and we’re out on the street next year. It really should be bringing us to the table in a place where we’re on equal footing,” said LaMontagne.

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