Riverside condominium owners find relief after decade of water intrusion

Riverside condominium owners find relief after decade of water intrusion
1661 Riverside

About 18 months after the mixed-use development known as 1661 Riverside began occupancy in 2007, tenants began to experience water intrusion into their condominiums. Tropical Storm Faye had stalled over Jacksonville in August 2008, driving rain horizontally against some of the five buildings which make up the complex, according to Bill Ratchford, concierge.

Engineers were brought in to study the problem and determined water intrusion was occurring primarily through the windows and sliding glass doors, which had damaged or missing flanges – the flat metal rim which gets affixed to the drywall and is supposed to prevent water from entering around the windows.

Now, 10 years and a lawsuit later, the property is getting badly needed repairs.

“This re-construction goes into the absolute core of the building, not just the façade,” said Patty Hammond-Fischer, a member of the condo owners association board of directors. “There were two main problems with this building: 1) leakage (some major) through the facade and into underlying materials and 2) cheap windows and doors.

“Once the façade was demolished, we were able to see exactly what was happening underneath, some of it okay and some of it needing immediate attention,” she said.

The 18-month project, which is being overseen by Jacksonville-based Woods Engineering, includes delamination of the exterior and inner courtyard façades of the five buildings which make up 1661 Riverside. The project started in February 2018, will cost around $6.6 million, including fees and permits, and is being handled by RLH Construction out of Oviedo, Florida.

According to John Galuppo, RLH Construction superintendent, the process includes removing the stucco, stone and brick, after which 700-800 windows and sliding glass doors will be replaced. Following waterproofing, the façades will be re-installed to match the original. The four-story buildings include one- to three-bedroom residences in 69 lofts and 21 townhomes, according to Ratchford.

The project is being funded as a result of a January 2017 settlement with the insurance bonding company, according to Dale Tucker, president of the condo owners association.

“We’re excited; it’s really going to look great for the neighborhood,” he said.

The project was originally under development in 2005 by Midland Development Group Inc., which closed its doors in 2010 after one of the founding partners passed away. Construction was being done by The Auchter Company, which was issued permits for $22,806,903 in April 2005 for the original project. Founded in 1929, the construction company shut its own doors Dec. 31, 2007, having accumulated $16.9  million in liens.

XL Specialty Insurance Company was deployed to complete the project, according to public records. During latter stages of the project, which wasn’t complete until 2009, disputes arose and XL Specialty filed a claim against its subcontractor, Dawkins, Inc., for construction defects.

The insured, which included 1661 Riverside LLC, the property owner, and the condominium association, intervened in the underlying litigation in 2012, asserting claims against XL Specialty, Auchter and Dawkins. After the lawsuit was settled in January 2017 with Amerisure Insurance Company, the insurance bonding company, RLH Construction was engaged to undertake the repairs and renovation.

Although longtime condo owners Jack Robison and Gunnel Humphreys did not experience leaking windows, they both said they will be happy to get new windows.

“The windows in my bedroom whistle when it’s windy. I have duct tape all around the edges to keep the wind out,” said Humphreys, who bought her condo in 2007. “I adore my condo.”

Robison, who also bought in 2007 as one of the first tenants, said his side of the complex doesn’t get the driving rain that caused leakage in the north facing units. “It’s a little bit of a pain, but great that the problem is getting fixed,” he said, referring to the renovation project. “RLH is doing a great job of communicating the schedule, but my building is probably a year away.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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