By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
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By Patricia Calhoun
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With two master suites, heated floors, soundproof walls and four private parking spaces, there's little to complain about. Gummin has rented her condo out to former Nugget Marcus Camby and is now selling because she and her husband have moved to Florida to care for her mother. She doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, why her neighbors in the homeowners' association have decided to sue. "We feel bad he's gotten such a bad rap," she says of Nassi.
But such rosy views are rare.
In 2006, condo owners in the Beauvallon began reporting leaks in their homes after snowstorms, so attorneys for the homeowners' association hired an outside expert, Professional Investigative Engineers, to check it out. The company noted that there was indeed water seeping in through windows. They also discovered a more sinister problem: mold in the walls of 44 condos, according to the lab results included in the firm's public report. The engineers concluded that the synthetic stucco-like material covering the outside of the building wasn't waterproof and allowed water to creep in, causing mold to grow in the walls and rust to corrode the building's steel frame. Pictures included in the report showed cracks big enough to fit a credit card at the point where balcony-side walls connect to the outside of the building. The edges of windows and sliding glass doors on the fourteenth and fifteenth floors had gaps that allowed water to enter. One photo, from a condo on the seventh floor, shows black mold growing beneath a window.
Environmental consultants hired by the Beauvallon's property management company took a closer look at some units. Although Gandalf Associates couldn't say for sure where the mold was coming from, they said it appeared to be "the result of affected building materials being repeatedly wet or kept moist for extended periods of time, likely from water infiltration from the outside," according to a May 2007 report.
In April 2007, the Beauvallon Condominium Association sent a letter to every owner in the building informing them that the association had filed suit against Nassi, his company, BCN Development, Swinerton Builders, Big Horn Plastering and other firms involved with the construction. The complaint alleged a slew of construction defects, from flaws in the material covering the outside of the building to bad roofing and leaks in the penthouses. Repair estimates reached $21.7 million and included the cost of removing and replacing the entire exterior of the building.
Association attorney Scott Sullan declined to comment on the problems or on Nassi, saying only, "I believe that my job is to help these folks get their homes repaired. We're trying to get the building fixed." Peter Mannetti, president of the Beauvallon homeowners' association, also declined to comment. Several residents contacted for this story didn't return calls seeking comment. Many who moved out of the most damaged condos couldn't be located.
Kevin Ott, Colorado division manager for Swinerton, says his company attempted to address a list of problems that the homeowners' association came up with. "We tried to take care of everything that we knew about and were allowed to take care of."
Ott's company has its own bone to pick with Nassi. Last year, Swinerton sued the Beauvallon Corporation to recover $1 million the company says it was never paid. An arbitrator awarded Swinerton $1.7 million, but the company has been unable to collect since the Beauvallon Corporation was a limited liability company set up only to build the condos; it no longer has any assets. Swinerton's lawyers are now trying to prove that Nassi is the Beauvallon's "alter ego" and therefore responsible for payment.
"He's very hard to find," Ott says. "We're trying to serve him."
Nassi says he's in settlement negotiations with Swinerton but is waiting to resolve the dispute until the homeowners' association suit is settled.
What's not clear from the homeowners' suit is how the city of Denver allowed the Beauvallon to be built with windows and walls that leak. It's so bad at times that neighbors around Lincoln Street and Ninth and Tenth avenues have gotten accustomed to navigating the waterfalls that pour off the building whenever it rains or when snow melts, not to mention the ice patches that form in the winter.
City building records show that an inspector with the last name of "Ramirez" signed off on the Beauvallon's roofing, gutters and downspouts in April 2004. But there are no gutters to be found on the building. Chief inspector Jim Morgan referred questions about the gutters to planning department spokesman Julius Zsako, who says the Beauvallon has scuppers — small metal boxes that drain water from roofs or walls — instead of gutters.
Yet they don't appear to do anything to stop water from pouring off the ornate upper ledges onto people walking below. As Professional Investigative Engineers noted in its report, this violates the Uniform Building Code, which says that "roof drainage water from a building shall not be permitted to flow over public property."
Zsako insists that the inspector's sign-off at the Beauvallon means that "all work was performed according to code," adding that inspector Ramirez has since retired.