TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tempo residential high-rise is supposed to be one of the Tampa Housing Authority’s (THA) crown jewels in the new $420 million Encore development project. But right now, that seven-story structure is an incomplete leaky mess mired in construction defect litigation.
The high-rise is riddled with leaks and construction defects, according to a just-released consultant report.
“Anytime you have water intrusion it can just be a disaster because it can lead to mold; it can lead to a toxic environment,” said Tampa attorney Jeff Lieser, who specializes in construction litigation but is not a part of this case.
8 On Your Side asked Lieser to review the THA consultant report to see if taxpayers should be concerned about their $26 million investment in the Tempo public housing project. “I’m one of those taxpayers and I’m concerned,” Lieser said.
According to a separate report filed by IBA Consultants Inc., similar leaks plague another Encore project building, called the Reed, which was built by the same contractor, Siltek Group Inc. The Reed is now occupied by low-income senior citizens. It’s a problem we first exposed in a You Paid For It news investigation back in August.
IBA Consultants Inc. has written a 25-page “building envelope design review” at the request of the THA. The review details a lack of waterproofing, and interior materials such as insulation and drywall that’s exposed to rain.
The document notes “at least one window is installed upside down.” That’s not exactly the kind of construction taxpayers expect in a public housing project they paid $26 million to build.
“What went through my mind is I’ve see this far too many times in the Florida construction industry,” Lieser said.
Back in June, the THA fired Siltek after alleging a number defects and other construction troubles. Siltek fired back, blaming the THA and architects for design flaws. Now both parties are suing each other while the Tempo stands vacant, 90 percent complete and exposed to the elements.
THA attorneys insist the bonding company is liable for any repairs on the project and say the THA’s partner in this project, Bank of America Community Development Corporation, is funding the legal battle. They insist taxpayers won’t end up on the hook. Lieser told 8 On Your Side that regardless of whoever is ultimately responsible, it’s going to be a very complicated and expensive case to litigate.
“In the hundreds of thousands easily,” Lieser said.
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