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TX Condo Owners on Firestopping

 

Addison threatens to close Aventura
Owners of condos get deadline to bring building up to code

By STEVE BROWN Real Estate Editor  
Published April 14, 2005, Dallas Morning News

The town of Addison demanded Wednesday that Aventura condominium owners make repairs to bring the building up to code or the city will close the complex.

Homeowners in the building just west of the Dallas North Tollway are suing the construction companies and developers.

The builders say the fault lies with contractors and city inspectors who didn't catch mistakes.

Issues with the building include defects or installation problems with fireproofing, plumbing and exterior features.

Built in 2001, the seven-story Aventura is at 5055 Addison Circle, just north of Arapaho Road. It has 86 condominiums that sold from about $200,000 to more than $400,000.

The omission of some fireproofing features apparently led Addison officials to act.

On Wednesday, the city gave Aventura condominium owners until early September to finish repairing the building.

"We are aware that the association is involved in litigation concerning this issue, but that cannot be allowed to interfere with the town's enforcement of its building and fire safety codes," said Carmen Moran, director of Addison's development services department.

"If they do not begin to address these issues in a prompt manner, the town will have no choice but to revoke the building's certificate of occupancy, which will require residents to leave the building immediately."

City's stance

According to the city, openings in the building's floors and walls were not sealed with fireproofing as required by city codes.

"The floor and wall assemblies in a building are designed to limit the spread of smoke and flame in the event of a fire," Gordon C. Robbins, Addison's deputy fire chief, said Wednesday. "As such, they constitute a vital part of the condominium's life safety systems."

Aventura homeowners have been in a legal battle with developers Addison Spectrum LP and Amicus Partners Ltd., construction companies and others involved in the project since 2003.

The developers claim it was the responsibility of their contractors and city building inspectors to make sure the project was built right.

"We relied on the contractors and the subcontractors to do their job," said attorney Michelle Rieger, who represents the builders. "Where were they [the town of Addison] when it was under construction?"

A spokesman for Addison said it's not the town's responsibility to make sure building inspectors catch all flaws.

"The building's owner has the ultimate responsibility to make sure that the building complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, codes and/or ordinances," said David Margulies.

"The building inspectors are not on site on a full-time basis, and their presence does not absolve the building owner from having the ultimate responsibility," he said.

Looking to correct it

It's unclear what the Aventura condominium owners plan to do about Addison's ultimatum.

"The cost of fixing the life safety issues in the building is millions of dollars," said attorney Charles Dorr, who represents the homeowners. "It is an amount of money that is beyond my clients' ability to fund.

"Obviously, we are looking to the people who sold these condominiums and developed the condominiums and built the condominiums to make it right," he said.

The homeowners' lawsuit isn't scheduled to come to trial until October.

E-mail stevebrown@dallasnews.com