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December 26, 2007
Mold Problems
 

Condominium Owners Allege Mold and Structural Problems in Two Lawsuits in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

by Andrea Milam, stjohntradewindsnews.com

Owners at Bay Isle’s 48-unit, luxury condominium development Grande Bay Resort have yet to move in, and they’ve already filed two lawsuits against the developer. Twenty-two owners, representing 31 of units at Grande Bay, filed a complaint in mid-December alleging the development suffers from environmental contamination and structural issues.

Owners also said they were being forced to close on December 26, despite the incomplete nature of the development, lack of promised amenities and the developer’s use of substandard materials, including doors and cabinetry.

At an emergency court hearing December 21, the developers agreed not to schedule any closings until at least ten days after a preliminary injunction hearing in the case, according to an attorney for the buyers. The hearing is set for January 28, 2008.

Previous Suit Settled

In June of this year, 24 owners at the luxury condominium resort filed a motion requesting a temporary restraining order preventing Bay Isle from filing new condo documents, which the plaintiffs alleged were “significantly changed,” with the Recorder of Deeds. The temporary restraining order was granted, and the plaintiffs later settled with Bay Isle in that case.

The latest complaint, which also names the Department of Planning and Natural Resources as a defendant, asks that DPNR rescind partial certificates of occupancy issued for units in building D until issues with mold and the structural soundness of the building are reinspected, explained plaintiff’s attorney David Bornn.

“We have named DPNR as a defendant because we feel they did not have all the information they needed for the issuance of these partial COs,” said Bornn. “In this project, DPNR — as it has with several other large developments in the territory — relied upon private inspectors hired by the developer to do the inspections and certify that the project is ready for the issuance of COs, rather than having its own independent review.”

“These inspectors are paid by the developer,” Bornn noted.

Bay Isle had scheduled its first round of closings with the owners for December 26, despite the fact that the units are not completed, Bornn continued.

Owners were promised a “hotel infrastructure,” said Bornn, including a pool, concierge, gym, landscaping, full complaince with the Americans With Disabilities Act and a parking garage.

“Obviously, through a casual viewing of the site, these amenities are not available,” said Bornn. “We were advised that yes, they plan to have them but it’s still at least a year away. They’ve obtained these partial COs and per the terms of the contracts, when they received these partial COs, the owners are then supposed to close.”
More serious are allegations that there are issues with mold in the units. Bay Isle has admitted that during construction, mold was found in the drywall, explained Bornn. A recent inspection by the plaintiff’s inspection team found air contamination in multiple units, mainly in buildings C and D, the attorney added.

Structural Deficiencies

The structural soundness of the development may be in question as well, he added.

“In the course of inspection, we learned there are certain structural deficiencies that have not been certified as being sound,” Bornn said. “There are penetrations to the beams, and we have no certification whether they’ve been properly wrapped and treated to insure their structural soundness.”

The issues of mold and possibly compromised beams should have been brought to DPNR’s attention long ago, he continued.

“These two issues should have been brought to DPNR’s attention before the COs were issued, because they obviously go to habitability safety and use as a hotel,” Bornn said. “If there is structural unsoundness or environmental quality issues, occupying the development as a hotel is serious business.”

In addition to the more serious issues of mold and the integrity of the buildings, developers have used substandard materials to finish the condominiums, including doors that are not hurricane proof.

Roofing, Cabinetry “Inferior”

“The quality of the materials that have been used in the units was unilaterally changed by the developer to a much more inferior grade of material than was originally represented to the buyers,” said Bornn. “For instance, there was originally supposed to be a clay tile roof similar to the look of Peter Bay, and that was changed to a metal barrel roof. The cabinetry in the units, which was supposed to be solid mahogany, turned out to be fiber core with mahogany veneer, and very importantly, the sliding glass windows and doors were supposed to be hurricane impact resistant, and the doors are not.”Kelly Frye of Bay Isle Associates could not be reached for comment.
 
http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2198&Itemid=1

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