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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Private homes near campus off-limits to UA

    Henry Contreras house sits in a parking lot near Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall. The university is making no attempts to buy his property and Contreras is glad.
    Henry Contreras’ house sits in a parking lot near Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall. The university is making no attempts to buy his property and Contreras is glad.

    Henry Contreras lives in the middle of a UA parking lot.

    The 71-year-old has been living in his house on East Sixth Street for more than 40 years. When he first purchased it, other houses and alleys surrounded his home. Now, those buildings are gone and the parking lot of Arizona Sonora’s dorm is his backyard.

    The UA, he said, never offered to buy his house and he was never interested in selling.

    “”There used to be houses all over this area, but then the university started buying houses, and building parking lots,”” Contreras said. “”Thank God I never sold.””

    Directly west of Contreras lives the Kennedy family in the parking lot south of Coronado Residence Hall. The Kennedys, unlike their neighbor, are engaged in a life-estate deal with the UA, which will gain ownership of the property once they die, said Joel Valdez, senior vice president of business affairs.

    The Kennedys were not available for an interview.

    Valdez said the UA sought permission to condemn the house, which means to declare it convertible to public use under the right of eminent domain, and will build residence halls in its place when the UA aquires the property.

    “”But the board decided against condemnation,

    It takes only minutes for the university to bring in a bulldozer and build another parking lot. They will probably try to wait me out until I die, but I will just leave my house to a granddaughter.

    – Henry Contreras,
    Owner of house in Arizona Sonora parking lot

    and gave (the Kennedys) a life estate,”” Valdez said of the Kennedys’ property.

    Once the UA own the property, the house will be torn down and the area will be used to build residential housing, said David Duffy, director of Campus and Facilities Planning.

    When the university was planning its growth limits in 1967, private property owners who continued to reside in their homes had their land “”grandfathered,”” and the UA made no attempts to purchase them, Duffy said.

    Contreras’ house, because it was not sold to the UA at this time, is considered grandfathered land, according to campus planning maps.

    As a result, although the house is in a planning hot zone, the land should be left untouched, Duffy said.

    “”We are being polite in saying, ‘If we don’t need it, why take it?'”” Valdez said of Contreras’ property.

    Contreras, who has 10 grandchildren, said he plans to keep the property in the family.

    “”It takes only minutes for the university to bring in a bulldozer and build another parking lot,”” Contreras said. “”They will probably try to wait me out until I die, but I will just leave my house to a granddaughter.””

    Although Valdez said he could not provide the amount the university paid for the Kennedys’ house, he did say the university is in good relations with the Kennedys.

    “”The only problem we have with that house is its appearance,”” Valdez said.

    Logan Seaver, an undeclared freshman and Coronado resident, said the appearance of the house makes it look eerie.

    “”Its kind of creepy and random in the parking lot,”” Seaver said.

    Seaver said he has never seen any activity in the house nor heard other Coronado residents talk about it.

    Andrew Parsons, an aerospace engineering freshman and Arizona-Sonora resident, said Contreras’ house is “”pretty invisible.””

    Contreras said he doesn’t mind being in the hub of campus. “”I’m used to the noise,”” Contreras said. “”When the students leave for the summer and I have no noise, I sleep with the television on so I have noise in the background.””

    Contreras, who has been living in his house alone since his wife died last November, said he is comfortable and enjoys the solitude that comes from having no neighbors.

    However, the one grievance Contreras has is that trash from the parking lot blows into his yard.

    “”But even that doesn’t bother me much,”” he said.

    The solid brick foundation of his house provided added incentive for staying put, Contreras said.

    “”The foundation of this house is like the Rock of Gibraltar,”” he said. “”You can’t go buying houses built nowadays with two sticks.””

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