All that glitters is not gold: when luxury real estate collapses

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Luxury Residences promise their residents sophistication and cleanliness. Elegant chandeliers, coveted balconies and other exclusive amenities are just a few of the attractions that attract buyers. But surprisingly often, luxury condominiums subsequently reveal obvious structural defects after the plywood has worn off.

This unsettling but somewhat commonplace phenomenon has caught attention this week when luxury high rise condominium tower near Miami partially collapsed, seemingly spontaneously. As of Friday afternoon, 159 residents of the house are still missing in the wake of the disaster. Four were confirmed dead.

“Do you know what a ripple effect this will have in Miami?” Steven Sladkus, a partner at Schwartz, Sladkus, Reich, Greenberg, Atlas LLP, who often represents residents in cases of construction defects in luxury condominiums, Inmanu said. “Who would be from the construction department [is] there, they are going to send detachments to inspect the buildings to find out if this can occur in other buildings, or what caused it. “

Recent high-profile construction defects in luxury condominiums

The partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida is one of the most serious. The building, completed in 1981, was about to undergo major renovations as part of a 40-year recertification process. These upgrades included a new roof and repairs to rusted steel and concrete crumbling, which are common in coastal buildings of this age that have been exposed to ocean salts for extended periods of time. The engineer identified these renovations in the building’s recertification process, but for now, experts involved in the process say there is no evidence that the renovations were related to the building’s collapse.

Kenneth S. Director, a lawyer representing the residents’ association that operates Champlain Towers South, said The newspaper “New York Times that engineers often have a good idea of ​​where repairs need to be made, but may not know the full extent of the damage until they start working on the building. Charlie Danger, a former Miami-Dade County construction manager who is now retired, said Time One problem area in buildings close to the ocean is poorly protected reinforcement, which rusts and causes the concrete to crack (chipped or shattered concrete).

After the tragedy, questions arose about the past red flags in the building. As construction began on the neighboring complex last year, Champlain Towers resident Risa Rodriguez told reporters that Time that residents could feel the entire building shaking, raising the question of whether impacts from a nearby structure may have played a role in the collapse of the Champlain Towers.

In 2015, a resident of the complex filed a lawsuit against the condominium association, alleging that poor maintenance of the building resulted in water damage to her apartment due to cracks in the outer wall. This resident’s attorney Daniel Wagner reported Time that the claim concerned “the structural integrity of the building and serious wear and tear”.

In addition, a 2020 study by a professor at Florida International University found that the Champlain Towers complex began showing signs of land subsidence (sinking or subsidence) in the 1990s, as shown by space radar analysis. While land subsidence is not uncommon in the area, Champlain Towers was the only location on the eastern side of the barrier island where subsidence was found in the study.

Another luxury apartment that has recently attracted attention for its shortcomings is 432 Park Avenue, a New York City high-rise that briefly came into the spotlight as the tallest residential building in the world at 1,400 feet. Despite the buzz surrounding the building and the multi-million dollar living expenses, just six years after its completion, details of residents’ complaints about the tower’s defects, including plumbing and mechanical problems that led to costly water damage, unreliable elevators and creaky walls, became known. , all of which can be traced back to the menacing height of the tower, according to testimonies obtained Time

These problems have led some residents to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly renovations and have also filed a series of lawsuits against developers.

In the early 2010s, as property values ​​in New York began to rise and developers were looking to capitalize on the market, condominium construction and refurbishments grew rapidly, leading to similar construction defects as developers rushed to get the job done. Concrete began to fall from the façade and balconies 500 Fourth Avenue, A 12-story condominium building in Brooklyn, in 2013, just three years after the building was opened to residents.

Why these problems persist

Stephen Sladkus | Credit: Schwartz, Sladkus, Reich, Greenberg, Atlas LLP.

“Over the years, I have watched condominiums or new construction or reconstructed buildings for sale, which offer apartments for sale, where there are many construction defects, and my office is still constantly haunted by such cases, and they do not stop, ”said Sladkus Inmanu. “It just didn’t stop because of the pandemic.”

Sladkus explained that when the courts were closed in the midst of the uncertainty of the pandemic, he believes that the lull in court cases, as well as the pause in daily life, allowed the residents of this house to stop and focus on their life situation and, ultimately, the determination that “ we have to go out and take care of these issues. “

Given the relative frequency of these problems arising from developers rushing to get their work done, you might think they’ll learn a lesson from all of this at some point. But Sladkus said that everything is not so simple.

“You know what? I found that history tends to repeat itself,” he said. “The economy usually goes up and down, and when Developers are going through tough times and they are in the middle of a project, many of them will try to finish as soon as possible to get out of the deal as unharmed as possible. “

As the economy continues to find a more secure base for emerging from the pandemic, Sladkus said he would not be surprised if developers now rush to complete projects that were halted before or during the shutdown, potentially leading to more buildings with construction defects. future.

“Because they have a lot of money at stake, and they will want to try and sell everything they can, and when they can,” said Sladkus. “And they are hoping the market will change for the better, and it is, but that hasn’t stopped many developers from building quickly and cutting corners.”

Email Lillian Dickerson



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