Apartment Building with Construction Defects to Be Vacated, Dismantled

A Seattle apartment building in danger of structural failure

McGuire Apartments

By Anuradha Kher, Online News Editor

Seattle—A Seattle apartment building in danger of structural failure will be dismantled as soon as all the residents move out. The 25-story McGuire Apartments, located at Second Avenue and Wall Street in Seattle’s Belltown area has extensive construction defects, which are financially impractical to repair, according to the building’s owner, Carpenter’s Tower LLC.

“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,” says 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 residents 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.

Carpenter’s Tower has filed a suit against the general contractor responsible for the construction of the building and against the building’s architects.

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.”

Meanwhile, the Carpernter’s Tower is doing everything it can to facilitate the moving out of residents in the building’s 272 units. “We are providing an incentive package to help residents relocate much faster than the end of the year,” Urback says. “We recognize that this is a major inconvenience so we are trying to make it as easy as possible under difficult circumstances.” And here’s something you might never hear of in the multifamily industry; the company is providing financial incentives, including moving costs if residents move quickly. In addition, building staff is helping residents in their apartment search.

The McGuire is a new building, having been completed only in 2001. It also features four street-level retail spaces in the building.