A downtown Yakima apartment building has been declared dangerous after studs for the second floor were found bowed, city officials said.
Notices posted on the Senator Apartments state that the building must be vacated by 5 p.m. Wednesday unless temporary efforts to shore up the upper story are completed.
The building’s owner, Aaron Stewart, insists the city is wrong about the building being dangerous, and said he is making repairs.
“The city’s notice is wrong,” Stewart said in a phone interview Friday. “The city has been advised by my attorney to stop producing that information because it is wrong.”
But a city spokesman said the order declaring the 110-year-old North Front Street building dangerous was based on information provided by Stewart’s engineers.
“It doesn’t speak to the condition of the building, but it identifies the situation and prescribes a remedy,” Randy Beehler said.
City officials became aware of the situation at the Senator in October, according to Beehler. At that time, a Senator tenant complained that the floor of his second-story apartment was sagging, Beehler said.
It appeared that stripping away a first-floor ceiling to the studs of the second floor removed much of the support for the floor above, Beehler said.
After receiving a notice of noncompliance Oct. 15, city documents said Stewart had Clark Consulting Engineers evaluate the supports, and that firm went to another engineering firm, Leslie Engineering, for a second opinion. The engineers concluded that “the vertical assembly in question are in a state of partial failure, have no capacity to resist compression loads and are creating a dangerous condition for the occupants,” according to the city’s notice of noncompliance.
A city inspector reviewed the building and came to the same conclusion, the document stated, and declared the building dangerous. City officials said the building’s occupants have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to leave, unless Stewart puts in temporary shoring for the second-story floor’s underside, with a permanent fix made no later than Jan. 12.
That notice was dated Nov. 13 and posted on the building.
For one of Stewart’s tenants, the news could not come at a worse time.
“I just launched a new product line, and there are weeks of orders,” said Kurtis Lamberton, who makes boutique electric guitar pickups with his business, Lambertones, LLC. “It’s going to take me 48 hours to move my equipment.”
Lamberton, who moved into a first-story space in June, said he saw Stewart at the building Thursday night and questioned him about the dangerous-building notices.
“He said it was not true, that nobody would be evicted,” Lamberton said. “He said he could take down the notices.”
The notices were missing Friday, Lamberton said, but the city has since replaced them.
“The information you have is not correct,” Stewart said.
Beehler confirmed that notices were posted again on the building Friday.
Stewart said he has since had another engineer look at the building, and that engineer reported it was safe, and Stewart is making repairs to the building.
Beehler said the city received a letter from Pacific Northwest Engineering, which did not address whether the building was dangerous, but recommended shoring up the studs.
City code officials issued a building permit for the work Friday, according to the city’s website Workers were at the building Saturday.
Stewart also owns the Cascade and Savoy apartments in downtown as well. It is not the first time city officials have determined Stewart’s properties to be dangerous.
Two years ago, city officials declared the Savoy Apartments a dangerous building following a fire in one apartment and resulting damage and loss of utilities to the building. During the fire, insulation in the attic was released, creating concerns about potential asbestos exposure, city officials said.
The building has since reopened
In July 2013, the city moved to have the Cascade and Senator buildings vacated after Stewart failed to fix problems with the fire alarm system and patch holes in the building’s drywall that were identified six months earlier.
The order was stayed after Stewart agreed to post a fire watch in the building while the systems were repaired.
This story was updated to correct the spelling of Kurtis Lamberton's name.