Seattle Learns a Lesson in Bubble Buildings

Monday, April 12, 2010 0 Comments

When economic powers that be are frantic to blow better bubbles in the wake of collapsed ones (as was the case in Seattle and elsewhere in post dot com 2001), you get disaster crap like this.

See also: Chinese drywall

A 9 year old high rise in Seattle is being demolished as its problems are too expensive to fix. You know, getting put out of its misery.

The Seattle Times:

Hundreds of residents and business owners who live and work in a modern, 25-story Belltown apartment building were told over the weekend to move out as soon as possible because of major structural flaws found in the building.

The building owner, a Seattle-based venture formed by pension funds and the local carpenters union, said it plans to demolish the high-rise.

The entity, Carpenter's Tower, said it is too expensive to fix all the problems at the 272-unit McGuire Apartments at Second Avenue and Wall Street. Defects include corroding and rusting cables, defective reinforcements in the building's exterior concrete and structural problems, the company said in a news release.

The McGuire, a $32 million project finished in April 2001, is safe for now, the company said, but residents were asked to move out before the end of the year.

Don't sob for whomever has to live there, that's sort of what you get for jumping into a sardine can loft at any point after 2001 anyway. Those stopped being functionally cool in 1999 last I checked.


The formal announcement came this afternoon from the building owner, Carpenter's Tower LLC, citing "extensive construction defects, which principally involve corrosion of post-tensioned cables and concrete material and reinforcement placement deficiencies."

Huh? Turns out, the cables are corroding because they were not properly protected with corrosion-preventative paint, the grout used to seal the cable ends and anchors was not the specified non-shrink grout, and it was defectively installed. "As a result," the announcement continues, "water leaked into these areas and caused the cable ends to rust, and then corrode." What's more, reinforcement in the building's exterior frame turns out to be defective, resulting in structural impairment and cracking of the building's concrete shell.

In other words, a nightmare. The problem is intractable, the owners have concluded, and they've decided to dismantle the building. "The McGuire is not in imminent danger of a structural failure," according to Brian Urback, a consultant hired by Carpenter's Tower. However, he acknowledges, "the experts have advised that the building be vacated by the end of 2010."

Seattle's Department of Development is not requiring immediate evacuation, and Carpenter's Tower is providing an incentive package to help tenants relocate. "We recognize that this is a major inconvenience so we are trying to make it as easy as possible under difficult circumstances," according to the official statement. The landlord is 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."

Says one tenant, on the HideousBelltown blog, "All tenants are urged to move out, with staggered incentives if they leave before June 30. For instance, if you rent a 1-bed apartment and move out before May 15, they pay you $2,000 (for the 1-bed apartment) plus three times your monthly rent."

OK really don't cry for them. Cry for the owners, Carpenter's Tower - a property-owning collective of Carpenters Union, Local 131 and the Multi-Employer Property Trust (pension funds). That's going to hurt.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.