For the next 300 days, residents
living in the waterfront Trianon condominium in West Palm
Beach will not be able to enjoy the sea breezes fluttering
across their terraces.
In fact, they won't be able to venture onto their balconies at all, thanks to a massive exterior renovation project that will forbid their even opening sliding glass doors to the terraces for nearly a year.
Supplies are hoisted to the top of the 111-unit Trianon condo to make repairs to the building in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 5, 2021.
"It's a construction zone for 300
days, during COVID," said Audrey Diamond, a longtime
resident. "This whole building is up in arms."
Diamond called the efforts "constructive eviction" because the building construction will make it hard for people to stay in the tower through the year-long project.
Audrey Diamond, a resident of the Trianon condominium in West Palm Beach, next to the balcony she no longer can use. A massive exterior renovation project has cut off residents' access to their balconies for 300 days, prompting complaints from some residents who say the project should not be taking place during a pandemic. Diamond stands in front of the patio furniture she had to move inside from the terrace.
"I don't know of any (associations) that
have cut off the balconies for almost a year. That is
unusual," Gelfand said.
Add in the pandemic, and the situation becomes even more unique, Gelfand said.
In an email to the Palm Beach Post, Rembaum said the general contractor decided that doing the entire building at once instead of in stages was the best approach, especially because the contractor hopes to avoid doing work during the worst of hurricane season.
Rembaum said in his letter that the building's condition is dire. An engineering report noted "widespread deterioration" of the balconies' concrete elements, as well as the steel support columns and exterior stucco facade, he wrote.
At least 37 support columns are in need of repair, Rembaum said.
He added that the condominium board weighed the inconvenience of commencing work now, with the need to ensure the building is safe for its residents.
In the end, "the board voted to have the work performed rather than risk possible catastrophic injury to person and property," Rembaum wrote.
Longtime residents who know the building's history disagree with the critical portrayal of the building's condition. Through the years, the building's leadership has repaired many balconies, which can be damaged by exposure to the salt air of the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, residents said.
Another resident who asked not to be named echoed the concerns.
People aren't opposed to keeping the building maintained, the resident said, "but it's the execution of what is going on that is not fair or reasonable ... .We have a high percentage of homeowners in the building that are in a high-risk category, and they're causing unlivable conditions, in a pandemic."
In addition to being unable to venture onto their balconies, residents also will be living daily with hours of drilling, as well as dust in their units when balconies are being repaired or sliding glass doors are replaced with hurricane-resistant doors.
Rembaum said the decision to seal off the balconies was made to minimize the amount of dust entering units.
While some wealthier condo owners might have another place to stay, older or less affluent residents may have no choice but stay in the condo in what some believe is an unlivable situation, the resident said.
Preparation for the repair work continues, as the general contractor awaits permits from the city of West Palm Beach so it can begin construction. On Monday, all sliding doors were set to be sealed from the exterior with a piece of two-by-four wood.