As posted at the time, the news coverage, photos, interviews with residents and families was heartbreaking and horrifying. Reports of the deteriorated condition the structure leading up to the incident, much of which is now confirmed, is nothing short of shocking. The worst being that people in the power to do something, apparently did not.
So we all continue to consider what this means for us. “What about here? Could this really happen?” Questions that make sense considering what we learned. As we said then, there are scores of variables at odds between a building in the Midwest and a building sitting on the beach in Florida – if not hundreds. The climate and saltwater environment perhaps being the biggest. Looking at Park Tower, there are also formidable difference in construction.
As a reminder to our Owners and Residents who read what we originally posted following the tragedy, and to those who are new, our team wants to provide reassurance.
I’ve been Park Tower’s Property Manager for almost 16 years. Policy issues come and go which cause a measure of controversy, but one very positive characteristic has remained constant. Whenever your professionals (management, staff, engineering firms, legal counsel, etc.) have addressed structural or mechanical concerns, your Boards have ALWAYS listened and acted. When we consider maintenance and care of the building, PTCA is typically very proactive! Particularly when professional opinions have been presented to your Boards, action is taken without unreasonable delay. The most debate is typically over which proposal to choose, if even.
Park Tower continues to be in very solid financial health. You may have heard about the $15MILLION Special Assessment facing the Condo Owners at the building in Florida. Possibly a huge reason for the bickering and delay in getting the needed work started. Because PTCA’s Boards have made a substantial commitment to long term planning and ample funding of the reserve such that Special Assessments are avoided, we have not had to debate them. Park Tower Owners have never been forced to fund major projects separate from the regular assessments.
First, your Boards have relied on a regularly updated Reserve Study to map out the health and anticipated lifespan of most structural and mechanical components of the building. Professionals study the building, walk the common areas regularly from roof to basement, interview management and the staff, reviews recent repairs, meeting minutes and other records, and presents an almost 200 page report that maps out the next 30+ years of physical and mechanical needs. Annually, management presents a long term budget for the Reserve Fund which is anchored in the information and detail that report provides. The budget is adjusted each year to insure the cash flow will be there to fund everything that can reasonably be foreseen for the next 10 years.
Ultimately, as we prepare for projects, we typically enlist the guidance of more specialized pros or even an engineering firm. In the case of the work we did a couple years ago in the Garage, the process started with the Reserve Study identifying the membrane as a component of the structure reaching the end of its useful life. Funding was earmarked in the budget for 2020/2021. Thanks to the Reserved Study we anticipated this, and in 2019 management recommended the Board hire Wiss, Janney, Elstner, a Chicago engineering firm. They did a forensic study of the garage which was presented to the Board, and followed by detailed specifications for structural repairs and replacement of the protective membrane.
Fast forward to today, and Park Tower completed that million dollar project without needing a Special Assessment.
One thing I would add, is we don’t ignore smaller scale maintenance either. Such as the maintenance of the garage surface and membrane. The salt and pollution that is brought into the garage needs to be cleaned off periodically. Such substances can amplify its aging and deterioration. So, that’s an example of where individual residents and owners come in – specifically in this case parkers, who need to move their cars when we do the seasonal power washing.
This is certainly not to say things never happen that are unexpected. I’m sure many owners read our Roundup Reports and minutes from Board Meetings. Surprises will pop up from time to time. Something that should have a useful life of 10 to 20 years, may not last that long and we have to make a plan sooner than expected to address it. However, I have high confidence PTCA should never face anything on the scale of what we’ve heard about with this condo in Florida. With continued proactive planning and responsible budgeting, Park Tower is in an excellent position to successfully navigate the future with very little possibility of special assessments or failures in structural integrity on the scale of what appears to have occurred in Florida.
In summary, our thoughts and prayers continue to be shared with those who lost love ones in that tragedy. PTCA does not suffer from the apparent challenges and imbalances the condo in Florida likely faced. If maintenance and finances continue to be managed responsibly and professionally, we do not expect to be faced with any such hardships here.