A timeline of concerns raised about Iowa apartment building, months before it partially collapsed
Jun 1, 2023, 2:20 PM
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — City documents released Wednesday show engineers and city officials visited a Davenport building nearly a dozen times in the months before it partially collapsed on Sunday. The most recent engineer’s report came out just days before the building crumbled, suggesting the west wall appeared “ready to fall imminently.”
Here’s a timeline that shows red flags were raised multiple times in recent months, according to city documents.
FEB. 2, 2023
MidAmerican Energy, an electric and gas utility, complains to the city about a deteriorating brick wall at the southwest corner of the building. The utility says its employees would not work in the area until improvements were made, including installation of scaffolding.
Chief Building Official Trishna Pradhan signs a notice of public hazard that says the southwest wall “has been gradually falling” and there is “visible crumbling of this exterior load bearing wall under the support beam.”
Pradhan says “emergency vacate orders will be posted on the building if the falling masonry area is not secured.” Notes show Pradhan was working with the building’s owner, Andrew Wold, on repairs.
David Valliere, an engineer employed by Bettendorf-firm Select Structural, does an on site inspection and writes: “this damaged area is not an imminent danger to the entire building and its residents. An evacuation or lockout of the building is not necessary at this time.”
Valliere sends a follow-up letter, detailing recommendations on the “necessary” structural repairs. He emphasizes that the failing wall should not be demolished all at once, saying there are unknowns about the “stability of a 100 year old masonry structure.”
Valliere performs a follow-up inspection, in which a Bi-State Masonry worker points out “a large and potentially dangerous void” beneath the façade of the area just north of the work being done.
The repairs recommended in early February appeared to be “going to plan.” Valliere says in a March 1 email that his Feb. 23 inspection showed Bi-State Masonry was “doing a good job from what I can see.”
But the city’s notes say a visit a few days later, Feb. 28, revealed the “west wall had collapsed into the scaffolding” and workers indicated it was going to require more work than expected.
The city’s notes show Bi-State Masonry was no longer working on the building by March 3, indicating that the firm requested more compensation because of unforeseen work.
A city notice says the material being used to reconstruct the wall was “not allowed” and that emergency repair work had been approved with the understanding that brick “to match existing” would be used.
All work stopped on the building as of early March, according to the city’s notes.
Fire Marshal Jim Morris signs a letter to Wold detailing a lack of compliance to resolve fire safety violations. Nine issues were cited based on a Feb. 6 inspection, a Feb. 28 reinspection and a compliance inspection on March 13.
Morris asks that the violations be corrected “within 20 days. Failure to comply, will result in a progressive fine and possible rental license revocation for life safety code violations.”
Building representatives fail to meet city officials for scheduled inspection of fire safety violations.
Valliere visits the building.
Valliere issues another report, which says patches in the west side of the building’s brick façade “appear ready to fall imminently.”
The engineer’s report says window openings, some filled and some unfilled, were insecure. In one case, the openings were “bulging outward” and looked “poised to fall.” Inside the first floor, unsupported window openings help “explain why the façade is currently about to topple outward.”
“The brick façade is unlikely to be preserved in place, but it can be brought down in a safe, controlled manner,” the report says.
The west wall of the building collapses.
City officials sign a notification of public hazard, describing the building as “an imminent, clear, and present public hazard” and “demanding the immediate demolition of the structure.”