San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Topaz residents wait for retail tenants months after initial delay

Although students who kept their leases moved in on the delayed date, they face construction noise and potential rent increases for renewals
Michael Hayes
The Topaz Apartment complex is shown complete for residents, but with some retail spaces incomplete.

San Diego State University’s Topaz student residential development opened on Oct. 15 to lessees who temporarily stayed in Airbnbs or family homes, but multiple retail spaces are still setting up on the ground floor. 

This comes after students initially signed up to live in Topaz starting in August, but a construction delay pushed the opening back by two months.   

According to the development company, Pierce Education Properties, other amenities are complete. The ground floor will reportedly include McDonald’s, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, The Alley, Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. 

At this time, McDonald’s is the only retail tenant open to customers. It opened in December. 

KrissAnn Kizer, vice president of leasing and marketing, explained that construction has been completed for the retail space on Topaz’s end, but the ground-floor businesses have to finish their “interior tenant improvements,” which are expected by late spring to early summer.  

Some students expressed frustrations by the noisy construction in the morning, especially when the building first opened to residents, but there is conflicting information about what time it started. 

“I have these big over-the-ear headphones that you wear for a shooting range, and I’ll put those on and go back to sleep,” fourth-year student Ella Albagdadi said. “But it’s been really frustrating because it’s every single day, including weekends.”  

Albagdadi said that the noise improved because construction starts later in the day now. She is more concerned about how much time she received to make her decision about a lease renewal and the rent increases after she signed a new lease.

“(Topaz) didn’t really give me a ton of time to choose or not because they were like, ‘There’s only five units that are (her current type of) unit, so if you don’t renew soon, you’re just not going to have the opportunity,’” Albagdadi said. “They’re also raising the rent, even though they said they wouldn’t do that initially.”

According to Topaz’s website, the current rate for a single unit is $2,600. This rate does not appear to have increased from the 2023-2024 academic year. 

However, Kizer confirmed that there will be rent increases for new leases and renewed leases. Kizer wrote that the exact amount “may vary and will depend on how quickly the property is filling for the upcoming year.” 

One student who hasn’t signed on for another year is Zane Pierce, a third-year transfer student. Pierce said he lived by the beach at an Airbnb during the construction delay, but he ultimately kept his lease because it felt like the only option.  

“… My girlfriend who goes here, she stuck with her roommates from freshman year,” Pierce said. “(Being a transfer student) I didn’t have that friend group yet, so other people were moving into houses, but what was cool with Topaz was that they had roommate matchmaking.”

Pierce said one of the reasons he does not plan on living at Topaz after this academic term is limited parking. Both he and Albagdadi voiced issues with the Internet constantly cutting out at Topaz.

“The Internet is basically not functional,” Albagdadi said. “It was working for a long time on my computer, but recently, it has been not working on my computer or my phone at all.” 

Albagdadi said that she called the third-party network’s service support six times, and it “hasn’t improved at all.”        

With frustrations apparent in students, Albagdadi added that Topaz’s initial decision of moving students into the building was too soon.

“I do think they should have waited and they could have opened later,” Albagdadi said.

For now, according to Kizer, Topaz is approximately at half capacity. 

“We did see a substantial number of residents opt to make other arrangements during the fall construction delay and were fortunate that about 50% of our residents decided that Topaz was worth the wait and moved in with us in October,” wrote Kizer in an email.  

Topaz’s fall 2024 residents are set to move in on Aug. 19, according to the annual term dates provided online. 

About the Contributor
Madison McGill
Madison McGill, Staff Writer
Madison McGill (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year journalism major from San Diego, California. Madison started out at The Daily Aztec in the Arts & Culture section writing album reviews, but she quickly discovered her love for covering campus news and her all-consuming opinions. Currently, she’s writing about fashion and beauty for an online magazine called Vanity Stories. When she’s not researching and interviewing for her newest work, Madison loves to dance around to music from her niche playlists and watch way too many films.