Plan surfaces for Terraces solifluction problems

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A protocol for how to manage problems with Riverview Terraces building 1 will be submitted to the city building department by the Terraces Homeowners’ Association on Wednesday, association attorney Scott Sullan said on Friday.

But Riverview Terraces LLC managing member Jay Harkins said if his original remediation plan for the condominiums was followed soon after it was submitted in January, no such protocol would be necessary.

Sullan, a Greenwood Village attorney who has represented thousands of homeowners in lawsuits against builders, said the protocol will first focus on monitoring structural movement in building 1, but will also include plans to monitor buildings 2 through 6.

It could also include plans to fix minor problems such as stuck fire doors. Sullan said he doesn’t think the protocol will include plans to repair the buildings.

“We want to come up with a way to make sure the building’s safe and it will stay safe,” he said. “It will be presented in concept form next week to the city.”

The idea of submitting the protocol was suggested during a Friday meeting between the homeowners’ association and city building officials.

The meeting was held in the wake of a notice and order posted by the city Monday stating that a plan must be in place to repair building No. 1 – which, along with buildings 2 through 6, is slowly sinking into the hillside – and building permits must be pulled by June 19 or all residents will be forced to evacuate the building.

According to the notice, once a city-approved plan is in place and permits are issued, the HOA would have 90 days to complete repair work on the building.

Buildings 2 through 6 have similar notices, but the HOA was given 90 days to make a plan and pull permits, then 90 additional days to complete repair work.

Harkins said he submitted a remediation plan to both the HOA and to city building official Russell Grance in January. The plan involved repairing building 1, then following the plan for the rest of the buildings if needed.

“Unfortunately, when the lawsuit was filed, the offer was taken off the table,” Harkins said of a suit later filed by the HOA against him, Riverview Terrace LLC and other companies and individuals involved with the project.

Grance said Harkins showed him a copy of such a remediation plan, but it was never formally filed with the city. Grance also said that when Harkins submitted the plan to the homeowners’ association, he offered to repair building 1, but only if he was alleviated of all responsibility for the other buildings.

Harkins said the HOA board rejected his proposal because they’re “laymen and they’re concerned about their units.”

Harkins also said he thinks that some people don’t simply want their units repaired, but would rather benefit financially.

“I will say, from the outset of this, there’s a group of people out there who want money and don’t want it fixed,” he said. “It’s being driven by those who want money.”

Harkins said the heart of the problem with the Terraces lies in an improperly installed drainage system. Pipes that normally would gather and disperse rain and snowmelt from the backs of buildings 1 through 6 were installed without cloth filters, Harkins said, so the pipes became filled with mud and stopped working.

As a result of this, the water seeped into the ground and hydrocompactive soil caused the back corners of the buildings to slowly sink into the ground.

Harkins also said the contracting company that improperly installed the drainage system, Searl Construction of Silverthorne, has since gone bankrupt. But he doesn’t think the shoddy work was done on purpose.

“I believe everybody that went out there had good intentions,” he said of contractors involved with the project.

Harkins said a different company installed the drainage system in the top row of buildings – 7 through 12 – and that’s why those buildings haven’t experienced any sinkage.

Since discovering the sinkage problems, Harkins said Riverview Terraces LLC has installed a temporary drainage system, but the buildings continue to sink.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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