People in more than 200 apartments will be scrambling for a new home, and they have until the end of May to move out. That’s because the Flats at Mixson, barely two years old, could literally crumble. News 2 spoke to two former residents of these apartments today and both said they were concerned about the structural integrity of the buildings when they lived there. One of these people, Peter Bingel, says this is giving him deja vu because he lived in the 500 building and was required to move out a year ago due to water damage.
Bingel says, “At some point they had wrap scaffolding around the entire building and obviously we knew it was unsafe at that point, and I spoke to management a week prior about safety concerns and and they assured me the place was safe. However, when the fire marshal showed up, they deemed the place was definitely not safe.”
Another former resident, Alex Bell, says, “They actually cut off the whole exterior of the building, all the stucco. They claimed it was for maintenance after one year which was clearly not true.”
These people say firefighters told them the scaffolding was an extreme fire hazard.
Bingel says, “One of the firefighters basically told me if there was a fire, they would be unable to get us out of the building.”
Bell says, “I heard a fireman actually say, when they came to kick everybody out of the building because it was a fire hazard, that this is where firefighters go to die.”
News 2 obtained a letter from the structural engineer which says the buildings are only one to two years old and have water penetrating the water resistant barrier, damaging sheathing, structural framing, stucco, and deck posts. The engineer determined the building structurally unsound and unsafe, and in a letter from the City of North Charleston’s Building Department, extensive repair is necessary and complete demolition may be required.
Bell says, “Hearing that, it doesn’t shock me actually at all.”
Former tenants say when something similar happened at building 500 last year, no one notified the rest of the residents about the issues.
Bingel says, “There was significant water damage throughout all of the buildings and they didn’t really tell any of the residents about this. They kept it all very hush-hush and they made us sign a nondisclosure agreement when it came to talking about the building I was living in.”
Jamestown, the company that owns these building says they have initiated a lawsuit with “a goal of assigning responsibility for the damage”. The North Charleston Public Safety and Housing Committee will meet on May 23rd to further review these structural concerns.