By John Schaffner

After more than 18 months, four women who own condominiums at Arborgate on Biscayne Drive in Buckhead remain a long way from being able to enjoy their homes. Two of the women still can’t even inhabit their units through no fault of their own.

Even after two hearings in Atlanta Municipal Court of a lawsuit filed by the city against Arborgate’s condominium association, major structural repairs to the foundations and other repairs of the four units have not been done and no schedule has been established for those repairs.

The condo owners sat in court for the second time on Aug. 6 and for the second time heard a judge grant a continuance to the condominium association, without assessing fines for delays in even starting work the court previously had ordered performed.

The problems began for these four women, who own units in building B-120 at Arborgate Condominiums, in the summer of 2005 when very high water bills suggested there was at least one leaking water pipe at the complex. Bur the real problems began in mid-January of 2006 with a ruptured main water line.

These four women—neighbors in building B-120 at Arborgate—have for 18 months been trying to get their condominium owners association and management company to deal with problems in their homes that have resulted in cracked and separated walls, sagging floors, severely weakened foundations, aging and ruptured water pipes, the threat of ruptured gas pipes, and finally resulting in being told they must vacate their homes for their safety.

When we first reported this story in the June 15-28 edition of the Buckhead Reporter, city of Atlanta Chief Inspector Jerry Martin—who the four women refer to as “our hero”—had gotten deeply involved and the city had taken the Arborgate homeowners association to court. The association was to fix a gas line situation Martin described as a “powder keg” and also fix the sagging foundation in building 120.

The gas line situation was repaired by late June, but the sagging foundation and associated problems remain unfixed and the women’s condos remain unlivable and in a state of disrepair.

Kimanne Allen bought Unit B-7 in Building 120 at Arborgate in January 2006. She planned to do some renovations to the unit and live there with her son. Allen was told by the contractor the renovations would be done in about two weeks; but she was never able to move in and the unit remains a shambles, with sagging floors, cracked sheetrock on the walls and debris sitting in the middle of the living room.

On January 9, 2006, the upstairs sink in Stacey Elgin’s Unit B-9 was broken when the renter had a seizure and passed out while the water remained running for five hours. Most of the water was contained to Elgin’s unit, some spread to Karen O’Brien’s Unit B-8 with smaller amounts seeping into Allen’s Unit B-7 and Andrea Nardello’s Unit B-10.

Not being able to live in her unit, Allen was forced to purchase another home. Elgin also has been unable to occupy her unit for over 18 months, but has married and fortunately moved into her husband’s home. Both women, however, still are making mortgage payments on condos they can neither live in nor rent.

O’Brien and Nardello are living in their units, but virtually only in their second-floor bedrooms. They were told they had to clear all the furniture out of the first floor of their units so foundation work could begin on July 9. Work has never started, but their furniture is in storage units they are paying for monthly.

On Aug. 6, the Arborgage homeowners association again was granted a continuance in the suit brought by the city to force getting the repairs made to the condominium units.

Apparently, a major reason for the continuance is that the city has not issued a permit to the company that has been selected by the homeowners association to fix the foundation problems.

The city inspectors are requiring over 60 piers be put in place to stabilize the building. Sean Rucker, agent of the management company for Arborgate, claims studies by engineering firm hired by the association suggest only 45 piers are needed. This would result in major additional expense and apparently cost over $100,000 to complete.

It seems the homeowners association would like an explanation from the city as to why these additional piers are required and want to meet with someone at the city to discuss it. However, attempts to do so apparently were not initiated until late July.

One reason the city is requiring 60 piers apparently is because the homeowners association cannot provide a copy of what is referred to as the “as built” specifications for the buildings when they were constructed in the 1960s. Those are required for issuance of the permit.

The judge granted a continuance in the case for a second time, this time until early September.

In the meantime, nothing has been done to fix the units of the four women, who continue to make mortgage payments, continue to pay homeowner association dues and can’t live a normal life and enjoy the homes they have purchased.