Belltown’s McGuire Apartments Killed by Flawed Construction
(Follow-up post on the architects, structural engineers, and general contractor here.)
The McGuire apartment building, at 210 Wall Street in Belltown, opened its doors in 2001. Now, just nine years later, it’s closing them for good. Though the marketing copy, ironically, boasts “exceptional attention to detail in design construction,” the 25-story building, with 272 units, is suffering from “corrosion of post-tensioned cables and concrete material and reinforcement placement deficiencies,” according to legal real estate advisers Kennedy Associates. (Their full press release, with full grout details, is after the jump.)
Since repair is financially infeasible, residents are being relocated (with larger incentives the sooner they leave), and the building will be dismantled. Everyone must go by the end of this year. This comes as a bit of a shock to residents of the upscale building, who are paying $1,000-$1,500 per month just for studios. But investigation of the defects revealed that conditions were becoming unsafe, and Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development is requiring the building’s owner to submit periodic inspection reports to track the building’s health.
Carpenter’s Tower, LLC, is the named owner, a partnership of the Carpenters Union, Local 131, and MEPT, the Multi-Employer Property Trust. They’re suing the general contractor and architects (not named in the news release). Since it’s unlikely the general contractor built just one structure, I’ve got a call in to find out who it was.
In the heyday of building before the real estate market crashed, roughly from 2001 onward, just-add-water condos sprouted up quickly. Nine years was enough to do The McGuire in–that doesn’t seem that long. But the Seattle Times just reported on Northgate’s Thornton Place condominiums, and the settling problem that 20 of the 109 units are experiencing, just a year after project completion. Floors and walls have separated by half an inch so far.
SEATTLE, April 10 – Carpenter’s Tower, LLC, the owner of the 25-story McGuire Apartments in the Belltown area of Seattle, today announced plans to vacate the building at Second Avenue and Wall Street over the next several months due to extensive construction defects which are financially impractical to repair.
“While there are no imminent tenant safety issues, the experts involved in the investigation and repair of the building have indicated that there will be structural issues that could present safety issues by 2011 and beyond,” said Brian Urback, with Kennedy Associates, the real estate advisor for Carpenter’s Tower. ”The McGuire is not in imminent danger of a structural failure and the experts have advised that the building be vacated by the end of 2010. Under the circumstances, we are taking steps to vacate the building over the next several months and to help our tenants relocate. Since the necessary repairs are impractical, the decision of the owner is to dismantle the building.”
The building owner has informed officials at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) of the extensive construction defects, which principally involve corrosion of post-tensioned cables and concrete material and reinforcement placement deficiencies. The post-tensioned cables are corroding because the ends of the cables were not properly protected with corrosion preventative paint, and the grout used to seal the cable ends and anchors was not the specified non-shrink grout and was defectively installed. As a result, water leaked into these areas and caused the cable ends to rust, and then corrode. In addition, reinforcement placement in the building’s exterior frame is defective, resulting in cracking and spalling of concrete, as well as structural impairment.
DPD has written a letter indicating it will issue an order later this year finding the building no longer safe to occupy and requiring the owner to “correct the unsafe conditions or vacate the building by December 31, 2010, or earlier.” The letter also indicates that the city is “requiring that the owner monitor the building condition and periodically submit inspection reports to DPD.”
“We are providing an incentive package to help our tenants relocate much faster than the end of the year,” Urback said. ”We recognize that this is a major inconvenience so we are trying to make it as easy as possible under difficult circumstances. We are providing what we think are generous financial incentives if they move quickly. We are paying moving expenses. And we are having our building staff help them find new apartments.”
Carpenter’s Tower is owned by Carpenters Union, Local 131, and by MEPT, the Multi-Employer Property Trust. Construction of the McGuire was completed in 2001. There are 272 residential apartments and four street-level retail spaces in the building. Carpenter’s Tower has filed suit against the general contractor responsible for the construction of the building and against the building’s architects.
SOURCE Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel, LP