TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side has uncovered new evidence that indicates construction troubles at the Tampa Housing Authority’s (THA) crown jewel Encore Project are far more serious than we previously revealed in our You Paid For It news investigation two months ago.
Back in August, Reed resident Paula De La Pena told us, “Every time it rains, the water comes down.” Pena’s bedroom walls were stained from leaks, and she said her carpet has been soaked repeatedly since she moved into her rent-subsided THA apartment a year earlier. At the time, THA Jerome Ryans told 8 On Your Side he was surprised by the problem but planned to deal with it immediately.
“I can assure you we’re going to get it fixed,” Ryans said.
Attorneys for the THA are now alleging — based on a just-released consultant’s report — that there are major defects in construction of the occupied Reed residential tower and nearby Tempo residential tower, which is still unfinished.
The THA fired the South Florida-based Siltek Group contractor last summer from the Tempo project. By that time the Reed was already occupied – but still under warranty from Siltek. THA attorneys now claim that in the Reed there are “health safety and welfare” defects that will require “necessary emergency repairs.” In a letter to the contractor and surety firm THA attorneys say the water intrusion is of such a serious nature that the THA plans to “commence repairs of said defects in the immediate future.”
We first reported on August 16th that water leaks plagued a number of occupied apartments in the Reed. A week after our report, the THA hired IBA construction consultants to investigate the depth of the water leakage problem.
8 On Your Side has just obtained a preliminary assessment report from those IBA Inc. consultants hired to investigate the extent and source of water intrusion at the Reed, a taxpayer-funded $18 million-dollar seven-story residential tower for low-income senior citizens. The building is just a little over a year old.
That IBA report identifies “multiple failed building envelope components,” including:
- Inadequate perimeter sealant application
- Cracked stucco
- Unsealed vents
- Unsealed light fixtures and electrical outlets
- Evidence of leaks in 26 apartments and the management office
- Evidence of possible mold behind drywall in one apartment
The IBA consultants recommend more testing and assessment to determine the full extent of the water intrusion, a mold assessment and a plan for fixing the water leaks that are damaging the nearly new building that You Paid For.
As a result of the leak investigation report, THA attorneys are recommending that the THA move forward with remediation to protect the building from further damage because “time is of the essence.” In a letter dated Sept. 28, the THA attorneys placed The Siltek Group and Berkeley Regional Insurance Company on notice the THA intends to pursue legal claims for the kind of water damage we first noted in our news reports two months ago.
The THA has referred all questions to the agency’s lawyers who declined comment due to pending litigation with the contractor. Siltek executives have not responded to repeated requests for comment made by phone and email since our first reports back in August.
A follow-up report from IBA detailing the source of the water intrusion and recommended repairs is due in the next week or two. The Housing Authority expects the contractor and surety company to pay for those repairs, not taxpayers.
A second consultant report released to 8 On Your Side details dozens of alleged defects in Siltek’s construction of the Tempo building, which is now about 80 percent complete. That seven-story high-rise has been the subject of lawsuits and counter suits since the THA fired Siltek in June. In a press release June 22, Siltek blamed all of the problems at Tempo on the THA, its development partner Bank of America and “alarming design issues.”
You Paid For it will have more on the Tempo project troubles in our news report tomorrow.
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