Thursday, August 14, 2008

1717 S Prarie Avenue Residents Speak Up

Tom Dzurison, recently retired high school teacher, meticulously researched the market before purchasing his two bedroom apartment at 1717 S. Prairie Avenue in 2004. His online and in person innumerable inquiries about similar buildings in the neighborhood made him a savvy buyer. At least that was the impression.

Even the closing which fell on the superstitious “Friday 13 Th” didn’t arrows hesitation about his choice. A year later problems with leaking windows outshined the beautiful design of the building, state of the art amenities and relatively low, fixed assessments Dzurison was so lured by.

“It turns out window sets are not designed to be set together,” says Dzurison trying to reserve his laughter caused by an anxiety.

Estimates of repairing the leaks range from $4 million to $8 million. This means that condo owners face a new special assessment of as much as $45,000 per unit.

“These problems are fixable, though, and I am staying in the building,” concludes Dzurison.
Water leakage being one of the major problems for the majority of the residents has affected not only individual units but the base of the building, meeting room, and parking garage.

“Warren knew units had problems and still sold them without a disclosure about the problems,” said Kelly, one of the residents who preferred not to reveal her last name.

Even though Kelly is renting out her apartment she has been involved in the battle against the developers from day one.

“I love South Loop but this has been the biggest stress in my life,” confesses Kelly who will be putting her condo on sale after the resolution with the developers.

Jean Kin moved into the building in 2003. She was soon relocated to another apartment in the building because of the water pouring into her unit every time it rained. Within a year she could move back to her original apartment but the water outflow is still there.

“Chicago City inspectors should have been doing their job. They should have noticed the leakage,” says Kim who suggests allotting association’s flower budget to hire a PR firm to raise awareness about their issues. By this, Kim wants to solve not only their problem but to help future buyers avoid going through what the residents of 1717 S. Prairie Avenue building are.

“There is so much buyers do not know about their (prospective) homes,” says Kim. “There are seven pending law suites against Warren (and his partner) but no centralized information about developer’s record.”

Hesitation versus Determination:
Some of the residents are not sure if the law suite is going to solve their problems. They fear the developer will file for bankruptcy and leave the residents with no financial resolution. Moral side, though, may be soothed. Or, will it?

Other residents are determined to inform people about the frivolity of developers, constructors and city inspectors and ready to go all the way until their demands are met.

Diane Anderson who is a board member of the building association says that all five board members were in favor of pursuing the law suit.

Anderson explained that their end goal is to have the city government issue an ordinance regulating responsible completion of projects and provide a five year warranty for the buyers.

The hearing on the case is scheduled for September 2008. And that is when the residents and the developers will most likely learn about yet another portion of expenses. Will the noble end goal be reached? Remains a question.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dream Home Wet Reality

1717 S. Prairie Avenue Tower Building residents bought something they didn’t get. Instead of a dream home with a view on Lake Michigan the residents got leaking windows, erratic pipes and skyrocketing assessments. Let alone the emotional trauma.

The battle between the residents and the developers Warren Barr and William Warman of 18th Prairie II LLC Legacy started in 2004, only two years after the completion of the building. At first by picketing in front of the sales center of the LLC and now through a lawsuit filed at Circuit Court of Cook County the residents are trying to hold the developers responsible on 16 counts.

Among them are documented facts that during the course of the sales of units the developer knowingly and purposely misrepresented that the building had severe water infiltration problems.

If you are wondering where the constructors and the city inspectors stand in this rather complicated situation… Well, the residents state that the city claimed they “didn’t have enough inspectors” to come and ensure the building was fit for occupancy.

It s interesting how we think and talk about the city. As if it is an absolute power or just something we can not deal with. This case was not an exception. The city and its negligent inspection policy stays excluded as a participant and responsible side.

The constructor and the developer are accusing each other but it is the developer the residents were initially dealing with. So, all the rocks fall on the developer.

Residents accuse Warman and Barr of reprehensively using Association funds to pay their expenses which were not reimbursed to the Association.

The high-rise has 177 condos ranging from 900 square feet starting at $285,000, to 2,500 square feet priced at $1.5 million. At present only four of the 177 units are not occupied. The developers were not paying assessments for the unsold units, thus depriving the Association of assessment income.

Official documents establish that the developer owes and declines to pay the Association charges for natural gas, electrical service and scavenger service and for real estate taxes from 2003 and 2004.

And this is only a modest enumeration of developer’s renowned inadequacy.