Wednesday, November 23, 2016

High-End 20-Story, 144-Unit Tampa Bay Tower Built On Shaky Ground? HOA's Lawsuit Against Developer Alleges That Loose, Soft Soil Is Unsuitable To Support Foundation, With Resulting Movement & Significant Cracking Of Walls, Stucco, Structure Throughout Complex

In Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports:
  • It has been called Tampa's "most prestigious building'' and "the most refined expression of living" in all of Tampa Bay. The views are "stunning,'' the amenities "fit for a king and queen.''

    But is the Plaza Harbour Island sinking?

    The Plaza condo association is embroiled in a lawsuit alleging that the 20-story, 144-unit tower built in 2007 is plagued with problems. Among them: exterior cracking that is the result of "significant subsidence concerns and structural design deficiencies.''

    Geotechnical investigations found "very loose and very soft bay bottom soils'' under the first-floor commercial units, according to the suit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. "These soils are completely unsuitable to support the foundation and, as a result, the soils have settled with resulting movement and significant cracking of the walls, stucco and structure.''

    Now, in a tower where some units once sold for more than $2 million, damages caused by the alleged defects have included "loss of use, relocation expenses, diminution in value, increased insurance premiums (and) damage to other property,'' the suit states.

    The Plaza's problems emerge as the condo association of Tampa Bay's tallest condo tower, the 36-story, 244-unit Signature Place in downtown St. Petersburg, purportedly has reached a settlement in a lawsuit alleging major construction defects there. Both the Plaza and Signature Place were built in the mid 2000s just as the housing boom was going bust.
    ***
    All houses and other buildings eventually settle into their foundations, construction experts say, and most pose little real danger to occupants. But San Francisco's 58-story Millennium Tower, built about the same time as the Plaza, has sunk 16 inches and tilted at least 2 inches, prompting a class- action lawsuit and fears it could topple in an earthquake

    This week, there were no signs from the street of any repairs that might be under way at the Plaza, unlike at Signature Place in St. Petersburg. There, scaffolding still covers part of the building two years after the condo association sued over multiple defects, including improperly installed stucco that could fly off in high winds.

    Board members could not be reached for comment, but one Signature Place owner, Scott Brandi, said he had been told the suit had been settled. He hopes that he and other owners will get back at least some of the $8 million in assessments they had to pay for repairs.

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