Nittany Pointe rep talks about reform

Egerer says group has upgraded rooms, increased security at student apartments

The president of the firm that has managed the Nittany Pointe student housing complex in Ivyside for the past 18 months touted its effort to reform the facility’s culture to the Logan Township supervisors recently — and explained the challenges of that effort.

Police Chief Tim Mercer said that his officers continue to be “busy there” but that he appreciates the physical improvements that Keystone Real Estate Group has overseen, the “phenomenal” security cameras it has installed and especially its “open communication” with his department.

When Keystone took over the 625-bed complex in late 2015, it found “catastrophic damage,” said Fred Egerer, president of the firm.

“Kids were pulling doors off,” Egerer said. “(The residents) were running the asylum.”

Since then, ownership has invested $600,000, upgrading rooms and installing those security cameras, he said.

It has hired security guards, increased the number of guards on weekends and established plans to deal with student parties, he said. It has tried to instill a sense of responsibility in residents away from home for the first time by treating them like adults. It holds them accountable when they mess up, and it also holds the parents accountable, he said.

Director of Operations Amy Tennis accepts no nonsense and has become “a mother figure” for many, Egerer said. “She’s very proactive.”

The firm has also reached out to college leadership for help, he said. “We’re trying to establish a sense of order.”

It helps that most of the students who experienced the looser management style of the previous regime have left or are about to leave, according to Egerer.

The number of incidents has dropped by 33 percent, he said.

The organization’s leverage, however, is limited by state eviction laws.

“This is a breath of fresh air,” said Supervisor Joe Metzgar. “Keep it going.”

That means that evictions, which go through the magisterial district justice system, often take more time than the company would like and that sometimes the court rejects the basis of allegations that students have violated their leases, according to Egerer.

When supervisors Chair­man Jim Patterson asked why there is so little trouble with students in the Penn State Altoona dorms by comparison, Egerer explained that those students can be ousted by the college immediately if they do something wrong.

“We don’t have that luxury,” Egerer said.

It doesn’t help that background checks aren’t very effective on 18-year-olds, whose juvenile indiscretions are generally expunged.

It might be possible to be more “aggressive” with enforcement, but that could put the owners of the complex in legal jeopardy, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.