65 Million Dollar Construction Defect to Be Blown Up

Talk about a construction defect; the leaning tower of South Padre Island, or as it was known, Ocean Tower, will be blown up in a controlled fashion and 65 million dollars worth of concrete, steel, glass and DECKS (sniff)will become recycled materials after it was determined that the building can’t be saved. Read the article from The Brownsville Herald below…

Leaning condos on South Padre Island to be demolished
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September 21, 2009 5:03 PM
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

(AP) — Touted as the Texas Gulf Coast’s most luxurious tower and later ridiculed as the “leaning tower of Padre Island,” an incomplete 31-story condominium project on South Padre Island will be demolished, its developer announced Monday.

The Ocean Tower, a 151-unit luxury project slated for a spa and other amenities, started construction in 2006, but stopped last summer when it became obvious the tower was sinking more rapidly than attached parking garages, causing cracks in beams and columns.

A lawsuit filed by developer Ocean Tower LP last year said the tower’s core had sunk 14 to 16 inches, while the attached garages sank less than half that amount. Ocean Tower is seeking $125 million in damages from two engineering firms.

“Unfortunately, multiple engineering studies have led us to the conclusion that it is not economically feasible to complete the building and to provide the caliber of condominium tower that we intended to build,” a prepared Monday statement from Ocean Tower LP said.

Demolition was a difficult decision, said Michael Caddell, a lawyer for Ocean Tower. He estimated the developer invested some $65 million in the project.

“There was really not a good way to fix the building economically,” Caddell said. “Even if it were repaired there would always be a stigma attached to that building.”

Ocean Tower LP had maintained until late last year that the problem would be remedied. It estimated in the lawsuit filed last summer that repairs would cost $20 million to $25 million.

Named in the lawsuit are geo-technical engineers Raba-Kistner Engineering and Consulting of San Antonio and structural engineers Datum Engineers of Austin and Dallas. Zachry Construction’s subsidiary Coastal Constructors, the project’s general contractor, was dismissed from the lawsuit.

Matthew Cano, an attorney representing Raba-Kistner, said he could not comment while the case was ongoing, but said “I do think that we have both factual and legal defenses.”

Greg Ziegler, lead counsel representing Datum, also declined to comment beyond saying that Datum stands by its design.

The Ocean Tower was structurally complete and the interior work was under way when construction halted last summer. By November, developer Tony Domit told those who had made deposits for units that they would get their money back.