Tenants evicted to make way for college dorms

Three months ago, Robin Capsel sat inside his Eastside Apartment preparing to ask the Rapid City Council for help. Now, he’s reading a different letter at a new apartment: an eviction notice he received New Year’s Eve.

“They could have warned us a long time ago because they had to have known and I told them when I was at the council,” said Capsel, a 10-year resident.

But Capsel says no one heard his plea for help, not the Rapid City Council, not the landlord Dennis Yahne and certainly not the developer Hani Shafai.

“Some of those folks we did not reach an agreement with until about 2 weeks ago,” said Hani Shafai, President of Dream Design Incorporated. “That’s when the notices to the land owners were given that they were going to be closing on this in the next 30 to 45 days.”

Tenants have until February 1st to pack up and move out before construction crews begin the expansion project.

“We offer alternative locations that are higher in quality and higher in value than what they are currently living in and we don’t require them to spend anymore money,” Shafai said.

Capsel says moving to one of Shafai’s alternative locations is not an option.

“I got that letter to go to the Roadway Inn but he’s connected with the whole project so I really didn’t want anything to do with the project,” Capsel said.

So, he’s moving into affordable housing down the street. While Capsel knows the expansion is needed he can only shake his head at how it was handled.

“There’s the right way and the wrong way,” said Capsel. “Of course kids need the housing; it’s the only logical place to go because they can’t build on the hill.”

Shafai says the dormitory expansion project is slated to be done by August 15. The $8-10 million project is privately funded.

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