Investigation Probes into Minneapolis Condo Cracks
For several weeks, investigations led by Socotec Engineering Inc. have been taking place at the Cedar Isles Condominiums in south Minneapolis over cracks in the hallways and common areas between the third and tenth floors.
“This whole thing is giving me a pit in my stomach,” said one resident during a February meeting with the Cedar Isles Condominium Association (CICA). “We are human beings living and working here,” another said. “This is our home. I'm afraid this whole thing will collapse.”
About Cedar Isles
According to the Star Tribune, the condo is made up of two former grain silos connected by a concrete bridge, which were reportedly built in the early part of the 20th century. In the 1980s, the silos were retrofitted for residential use.
At the time when the Southwest light-rail line tunneling plan was first announced some five years ago, it was reported that CIC residents hired a consultant who deemed the aged structures uniquely susceptible to vibration and questioned their capacity to withstand tunneling mere inches from their foundations.
Countering the consultant’s findings, the Metropolitan Council, which is building the line, believed that the risks could be mitigated.
Cracking and Investigation
Residents recently discovered cracks penetrating several floors within both Cedar Isles condo structures, particularly on floors three through 10 on what appear to be along the structures’ joints. As a result, experts have been hired by both the Met Council and the CICA to investigate.
Met Council launches investigation into condo cracks near light-rail construction site https://t.co/YTmD5mgRYP— Gregory A. Butler (@GREGORYABUTLER) March 7, 2022
“Our goal is to figure out what the problem is and come up with solutions that are cost-effective and risk-based,” said Robert Vecchio, CEO of Socotec Engineering. While a final report has yet to be released, Vecchio added that the concrete slabs that make up the towers' floors and ceilings are “structurally adequate.”
According to reports, Met Council is not assuming responsibility for the condo cracks at this time and has chosen to wait for an official analysis to reach completion. However, the Met Council continues to assure condo residents that their building is safe.
Despite the assurance, many report to still be concerned about negatively affected property values and security. The concern was further heightened when a water main break occurred a few weeks ago, flooding the condo’s parking garage.
The ongoing probe, which is expected to share results later this month, has caused a construction halt on a nearby Southwest light-rail tunnel along the Kenilworth corridor. The cease work order arrives just Met Council reported that the cost of the project had increased by up to $550 million, to a maximum of $2.75 billion.
Currently, the light-rail project is only 19% complete and has progress to make before starting work on what will be an even closer proximity to the condos.
In a letter to the Met Council and elected officials, resident Maria Henly requested that work on Southwest stop within 300 feet of the CICA property while the building is occupied and that the Met Council purchase the condos at their value prior to construction, noting that having residents live in the high-rise condos during such construction “is dangerous and insane.”
Other condo residents have inquired about monitors installed at the Cedar Isles complex by the Southwest project and if they could provide any insight to the cracking. In an email, Met Council spokeswoman Terri Dresen reported that the monitoring system is “multifaceted” and includes ground monitoring to measure vertical and horizontal movement of soil, vibrations and groundwater levels, and meters to gauge the slope and slant of CICA structures.
When Dresen was asked if the monitors were functioning, she noted that a comprehensive review will be included in Socotec's investigation.
Until a final report is issued, it has been reported that other businesses and residents located near the light-rail construction have also experienced cracking and damages.
Steven Savitt of Golden Valley said a commercial warehouse and office building he owns was “significantly damaged” due to Southwest construction that occurred roughly 20 feet away. As a result, Savitt has filed a lawsuit against Met Council and the project's general contractor, Lunda McCrossan Joint Venture, in Hennepin County District Court.
The Met Council has declined to comment on the litigation but has denied Savitt's claims in court documents.