TEMPE, Ariz. -- Work crews and security guards continue to surround West Sixth Tempe’s Tower 1, following a pipe burst which caused the building to evacuate.
As of Monday, residents of floors 11 and below remained out of their apartments. Those on floors 12 through 22 were permitted to move back in over the weekend following safety inspections.
Resident Cody Vitez, who lived on the eighth floor, which suffered water and electrical damage, told 3TV he was relocated by management to Tower 2.
“Right now, it’s just a pain moving in,” Vitez said amid unpacked boxes. He took pictures of his former floor, showing that crews have removed carpet from the hallway and some drywall following the leak.
“In my area, I pretty much saw water coming in through the door. I saw stains where water dried,” Vitez said. “They ripped out the bottom board panels in both walls.”
Management at West Sixth has repeatedly declined on-camera interviews, but in the latest statement, a spokeswoman says only a handful of units suffered minor damage. It goes on to say progress is being made with its contractors and Tempe Building inspectors as “Tower 1 is evaluated and authorized floor-by-floor for safety and re-habitation.”
Residents say they don’t fault the current management company, but have concerns about the building’s history. Construction at the Luxury Towers stalled during the recession and ownership changed hands multiple times in recent years. The current owner and manager is University Communities based in Colorado, according to a spokeswoman.
“I think they’re struggling to do the best they can with situation, but the problem is what other things might hide in this building?” said Damon Del Deo, who lives in Tower 2.
“Mold makes me really nervous,” Del Deo continued. “When you have water damage, that’s a big concern.”
3TV asked a spokeswoman about concerns over mold but has not yet heard back regarding that issue. Management said when it’s comfortable with the safety status of all floors, residents will be notified. However, a timeline for full access has not yet been determined.
Resident Brian Gallagher who lives on floor six of Tower 1 is still waiting to be allowed back inside, staying in a hotel for the sixth night.
“I hope they get this whole building inspected by, maybe, another third party to make sure everything is okay, moving forward,” he said.
W6 management said the floors “are being inspected to ensure that repairs to the electrical systems are complete and that units and hallways are safe prior to allowing residents to return,” according to a statement.
"They definitely need to look into the structural side of things and hire people to go in and do that, and they're doing that right now," Vitez said. "They have engineers and a construction team going in and doing that right now.
3TV requested past records for the property. A Tempe city spokeswoman said the building has had no prior citations by the Fire or Building Safety Division.
"Regarding the response efforts that have been ongoing since May 8, 2013, the majority of the work has been related to inspecting the electrical system that distributes power throughout the entire building, and not damage to actual apartments. Only a handful of apartments experienced relatively minor water damage. Power to the building was shut off in order to allow contractors to safely inspect the electrical system to determine if the water had compromised any of the components. West 6th Tempe Management continues to make progress with its contractors and the City of Tempe building inspectors as Tower 1 is evaluated and authorized floor-by-floor for safety and re-habitation.
"Over the weekend, residents of floors 13 through 22 were permitted to return to their units. At this time, floors 12 and below are being inspected to ensure that repairs to the electrical systems are complete and that units and hallways are safe prior to allowing residents to return. Management is hopeful that the remainder of the building will be allowed access soon and sincerely appreciates the concerted efforts of all parties involved in the inspection and safety certification process. As soon as the City of Tempe and West 6th Management are comfortable with the safety status of all floors, we will notify our residents for access. In the past 6 months, the new management company has made the safety and security of West 6th residents a top priority and will continue to do so moving forward."