Monday, July 18, 2016

Mixson builders appeal city’s ultimatum

Rebuild or repair

Posted by Dustin Waters on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 9:53 AM

click to enlarge The Flats at Mixson consists on 10 buildings with 268 apartment units - FILE
  • File
  • The Flats at Mixson consists on 10 buildings with 268 apartment units
The builders behind the embattled Flats at Mixson development are challenging an ul timatum handed down by the City of North Charleston, which the corporation says will result in “irreparable harm” in their ongoing legal battle with the property owners.

In June, North Charleston’s Public Safety and Housing Committee ordered the apartments vacated and gave Mixson owners Jamestown Properties 180 days to bring the buildings up to code or demolish the entire complex. As a part of their final decision, the committee agreed with the owners and found that the degree of water intrusion and damage present in the buildings made them unfit for human habitation.

During a committee hearing in May, Jamestown representatives said the cost of repairing the buildings would reach $30 million compared to $25 million to rebuild. Representatives for Mixson’s contractor, Samet, argued that the necessary repairs could be made at less cost and claimed that Jamestown’s desire to remove residents was all part of an effort to gain leverage in an ongoing legal suit between the two factions.

Samet and Jamestown are currently engaged in a lawsuit over who bears responsibility for everything that went wrong with Mixson. Arguing that the city’s ultimatum to repair or tear down hurts their legal standing, Samet is hoping to put a stop to the committee’s ruling until the case runs its course. Samet’s attorneys argue that when both sides were asked to present their cases before the city’s Public Safety and Housing Committee, no cross examination of witnesses was permitted and Jamestown did not ask any witnesses to swear an oath prior to making presentations. During that first meeting in May, Samet representatives went so far as to ask city officials to swear in expert witnesses before providing statements — not a common move during most committee meetings.

Samet also argues that the city’s sight inspection of the Flats at Mixson was inadequate. According to an email sent to Samet’s lawyers from North Charleston’s staff attorney, city representatives visited 15 apartment units and building 100. Samet’s attorneys say the visit was not representative of the remaining units in each building — specifically building 500, which underwent extensive repairs.

In their challenge, Samet’s attorneys state, “The owner initiated this process through an unsubstantiated opinion letter from the original structural engineer that the buildings were unsafe for human occupancy in order to gain a competitive advantage in ongoing litigation between the owner and the parties involved in the original construction of the buildings.”

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