Unit owners sue, claim Tampa condo building is sinking

Owners' association at Palm Harbour Island cites "significant subsidence concerns" in lawsuit

Nov.November 20, 2016 12:45 PM

The owners’ association at a condominium in Tampa sued the contractors who built the 20-story building, alleging that construction defects are causing the condo to sink and tilt.

The owners’ association at the 144-unit Plaza Harbour Island condominium claims in a suit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court that the nine-year-old building has exterior cracks due to “significant subsidence concerns and structural design deficiencies.”

The association’s suit cited geological investigations that found “very loose and very soft bottom soils beneath the condominium’s ground floor. These soils are completely unsuitable to support the foundation, and … the soils have settled with resulting movement and significant cracking of the walls, stucco and structure.”

The association at Plaza Harbour Island, located across a channel from downtown Tampa on an island with the same name, claims in the suit that unit owners face multiple costs due to construction defects, including reduced market values for their units.

The owners of each unit must “disclose the existence of these conditions to any potential purchaser, thereby limiting the marketability of his/her unit and reducing the market value of the unit,” the suit claims.

The impact on unit prices at Plaza Harbour Island is unclear. This year, owners have sold seven units, and the highest price was $885,000 for a two-bedroom unit, which was $74,000 below the asking price.

During the first 11 months of 2015, owners sold 17 units, including several three-bedroom units that went for more than $1 million each.

Seven units at Plaza Harbour Island are listed for sale. One of them is the penthouse, with an asking price of $2.4 million, which has been on the market for more than a year.

Two years ago, a Lakeland company did foundation-stabilization work on Unit 707 in the townhouse portion of the Plaza Harbour Island condominium at 450 Knights Run Avenue in Tampa.

Construction experts say buildings usually settle into their foundations without posing a threat to residents. Among the apparent exceptions is the 58-story Millennium Tower in San Francisco. The tower, built approximately the same time as Plaza Harbour Island, has sunk 16 inches and tilted two inches, triggering a class-action lawsuit. [Tampa Bay Times]Mike Seemuth

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