The Charleston Building Commission has shut down for repairs Town Center mall parking garage C, under a code violation notice.
City Building Commissioner Tony Harmon’s notice cites the garage, located off Washington Street, for unsafe equipment and dangerous structures or premises.
“The structure and its components are deteriorated to the point that it has been deemed unsafe to use for its intended purpose and is hereby ordered closed to the public until such time that all building code violations are corrected,” the July 30 notice says.
“The owner has 21 days from receipt of letter to deliver a plan of action to the City of Charleston Building Commissioner.”
The notice establishes that the electrical system be evaluated by a third party electrical engineer to determine the extent of the damage; that portions suffer from deterioration and must be repaired; that the electrical system conduits are rusted and deteriorated; and that the fire suppression piping is deteriorated and unusable.
The ground floor of the Washington Street property is used by Embassy Suites and The Marriott. Building C ties in with the other two mall garages at the third floor.
Property owners addressed are Crews & Associates, LLC and Carty & Company, Inc., in care of Andy Boyd of Real Estate Resources. The first two firms are trustees to the garage bondholders, investors who put up the initial money to build the 40-year-old structures.
The Hull Group purchased the mall out of receivership earlier this year.
Harmon estimated it has been “seven or eight years” since the building commission inspected the garages, despite a 2012 collapse that sent an 8,000-pound piece of equipment plummeting from one floor to another. No one was hurt.
Boyd has a management role with ABM, the company put in charge of managing the buildings during receivership. His actual contract is with the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority. He will serve in that role until the ownership/long-term maintenance issues are resolved. That issue is unsettled and appears headed for a legal fight.
Contacted Tuesday, Boyd said his company has been working with the city to address the concerns.
“We’re working to get the rest of the garage open in the next 30 days,” Boyd said. He said an electrician would address all electrical code violations, fire suppression personnel would tackle concerns and a structural engineer would verify the building is solid.
“We’ve been keeping Tony Harmon updated the whole time,” Boyd said.
Crews & Associates, LLC and Carty & Company, Inc. are representatives of the “Parking Garage Bonds,” or trustees to the bondholders. Both are money management firms, with both individual and government clients.
A deed from 1982, on file at the Kanawha County Courthouse, shows the mall owner responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the structures. Current owners The Hull Group dispute that agreement, although no document can be found absolving them of the responsibility.
Bondholders put up the funds to build the initial parking structures with the expectation they would be paid back. They have not been for some time, as both the mall and the parking operation slid into bankruptcy in recent years.