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Originally published Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 8:48 PM

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McGuire Apartments builder to plead with city not to raze building

The builder of the troubled McGuire Apartments hopes to persuade Seattle city building officials at a meeting Thursday that the 25-story...

Seattle Times business reporter

The builder of the troubled McGuire Apartments hopes to persuade Seattle city building officials at a meeting Thursday that the 25-story Belltown tower is safe and should be fixed rather than demolished.

But, in an e-mail Wednesday, a spokesman for the city's Department of Planning and Development gave no indication the city is wavering from its intention to declare the nine-year-old building unsafe before the end of the year.

Bryan Stevens said that, based on engineering reports submitted by building owner Carpenter's Tower LLC, "we agree that ... the building may be unsafe as early as 2011... .

"The building must either be repaired or demolished. It's up to the owners to determine which option makes sense for them."

Stevens said representatives of both Carpenter's Tower and the builder, McCarthy Building Companies of St. Louis, would attend the Thursday meeting.

In an earlier e-mail, McCarthy spokeswoman Susan Garritano said her company hopes "the city will recognize that The McGuire is safe and [that] with reasonable repairs and maintenance, at a fraction of the cost of demolition, it will be serviceable to tenants and commercial tenants for its complete useful life."

Carpenter's Tower, a venture of several pension funds and Carpenters Local 131, sued McCarthy in 2007 over construction problems at the 272-unit apartment tower.

While that lawsuit awaits a September trial, the owner announced over the weekend that it would vacate the building by Dec. 31, then demolish it, because the construction problems are too expensive to fix.

Garritano labeled that plan "unreasonable."

Carpenter's Tower's representative, Kennedy Associates, has said the chief problem with the building is corrosion of the steel cables reinforcing the concrete slab floors.

The grout used to seal openings on the edges of the slabs where the cables were tightened wasn't the specified product and was improperly installed, Kennedy has said, and the ends of the cables weren't treated with a rust-prevention coating.

An engineering firm retained by Carpenter's Tower concluded earlier this year that cables were likely to start breaking next year, and about one-third would fail by 2019.


After reviewing that and other engineering reports, Jonathan Siu, the Department of Planning and Development's principal engineer and building official, said in an April 9 letter to Kennedy that "the building does not appear to be unsafe at this time."

But Siu also wrote that the city intends to issue an order later this year declaring the McGuire unsafe, ordering that it be repaired or vacated by Dec. 31, and requiring that it be demolished if it's not fixed.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231

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