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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Nicholas Valdez and four of his roommates sat surprised and upset on the stairs of their Grant Avenue apartment.
"Wait, are you serious?" Valdez said.
His roommate, Jared Carr, immediately called his mother on his cellphone.
"Yeah, Mom? We're getting kicked out of our house ... yeah ... the school bought the property. All of Grant Street, apparently."
Valdez and Carr are West Virginia University students living in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Morgantown. Their house, along with dozens of rental homes along Grant Avenue, Jones Avenue, Quay Street, Third Street, Houston Avenue, Overhill Street, Highland Avenue and Wellen Avenue, was sold to the university for $14.6 million this week.
WVU and Paradigm Development Group LLC announced Friday they would build a $70 million residential and retail complex projected to be completed by the fall of 2014.
WVU officials said later Friday that no one would be forced to move, and said they would instead work with students and other tenants to try to get them to leave. But many students in Sunnyside on Friday afternoon believed the university was kicking them out.
"I already paid my rent -- it's already paid. So now I've got to move out, try to get my money back from this landlord who is awful to everyone, and pay that rent to another place," Valdez said. "I'm going to move into a house that costs $1,500 a month and just tell them, 'Yeah, sorry.'"
That house is much farther away from campus, replied another roommate, sophomore Mike Twiggs. "Is there any way you can appeal it?"
Many students first learned of the plan through an email sent by WVU officials at 11:08 a.m. Friday.