Article Courtesy of Daily Business Review
By Lidia Dinkova
Published June 25, 2018
The association for the condominium, at 133 NE Second Ave., says fire
sprinklers were blocked and would have malfunctioned if there were a fire.
It also has alleged problems with the HVAC system.
The Loft 2 condominium in downtown Miami was built with
flaws such as plugged and malfunctioning fire sprinkler heads and defects in
the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, owners complain in a
The 35-story condo tower at 133 NE Second Ave., notable for the Metromover
tracks running through the building, was built in 2007 by Jorge Perez’s
Related Group as part of its workforce housing projects that include the
nearby 23-story Loft 1 at 243 NE Third St.
The condo is in the urban core yet offers cheaper units than the luxury
condos that remain unaffordable for working-class locals. But the building
is mired in legal battles playing out in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
The Loft Downtown II Condominium Association Inc. twice has sued the
Baltimore-based general contractor Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and also
names subcontractors in the lawsuits.
133 NE Second Ave. in downtown Miami
Most recently, the association has sued Whiting-Turner and Doral-based fire
sprinkler contractor Century Fire Protection Inc. alleging the condo wasn’t
built according to plans and Florida Building Code standards, according to a
Feb. 21 complaint.
The Miami Fire Department on May 11, 2017, put an emergency fire watch on
the condo association, according to the complaint.
“These defects and deficiencies posed a major life safety issue because in
the event an emergency fire (broke out) the blocked sprinkler heads would
fail to operate throughout the condominium,” the complaint said.
The association hired Miami-based Pistorino & Alam Consulting Engineers Inc.
to inspect the building for construction defects, and its report said about
90 percent of the fire sprinklers were plugged. The latent deficiencies
weren’t discovered until January 2017, according to the complaint.
Bared & Associates attorneys Susan Granoff, Nicholas Mouriz and Pablo Bared
in Coral Gables filed the lawsuit. They didn’t respond to a request for
comment by deadline.
The complaint lists breach of statutory warranties and breach of implied
warranties, violation of minimum building codes and negligence counts
against Whiting-Turner and Century Fire.
Whiting-Turner, represented by Broad and Cassel partner Michael Wilson and
associate Edward Philpot in Orlando, turned around and sued Century Fire
saying any liability lies with the subcontractor, according to an April 23
The two have an agreement that says Whiting-Turner will be held harmless and
indemnified if issues arise with Century’s work, according to the
third-party complaint, which lists contractual indemnity, common law
indemnity, breach of building codes and breach of contract counts.
“To the extent that the claims made by the association relate to the scope
of work performed by Century Fire Protection have any merit, Century Fire
Protection is solely at fault for such claims,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said Century Fire Protection stopped operating and Century
Fire operates in its place, although they are the same company.
Cole, Scott & Kissane partner Kevin Schumacher and associate Matan Scheier
in Miami, who represent Century Fire, didn’t return a request for comment.
Calls to Century Fire also weren’t returned.
The sprinkler lawsuit is the latter of two over alleged structural defects.
The condo association previously sued Whiting-Turner and Miami subcontractor
Weathertrol Maintenance Corp. first in January 2012 and then amended its
complaint alleging shoddy work and defective materials mainly in the
heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
Problems include defective longitudinal seam welds in the piping, an
improperly cleaned condenser water system, lack of water treatment,
premature unit heat pump failures, scaling and rusting of pipes and pipes
not meeting minimum standards, according to a 2016 amended complaint.
These issues have caused deterioration and damage of pipes, heat pumps,
drywall and insulation, according to the complaint.
It’s unclear if the alleged construction defects have caused problems for
residents and, if so, for how many and to what extent.
For one, the sprinkler head issue isn’t something the average person would
notice and was fixed after the fire department’s notice, according to that
The HVAC system and related problems, however, are alleged to have caused
problems like peeling paint, water intrusion and other property damage.
The amended complaint over the HVAC issues lists breach of implied
warranties and breach of statutory warranties counts against Whiting-Turner,
negligence and violation of minimum building codes counts against both
Whiting-Turner and Weathertrol, and a violation of third-party beneficiary
contracts count against Weathertrol.
In turn, Whiting-Turner argued that some of the association’s claims are
barred by the statute of limitations, the company’s work and materials met
standards and the association might be liable for some of the alleged HVAC
problems because it didn’t do routine maintenance, according to a response
filed January 2017.
For its part, Weathetrol in January 2017 filed a motion to dismiss the
lawsuit and also has turned around to sue the piping distributor for
providing defective pipes for the project, according to the third-party
Numerous other companies that allegedly worked on the project, either
providing labor or materials, have since been drawn into the lawsuit, which
still is ongoing. A mediation effort in early 2016 ended with an impasse.
Wilson, the Broad and Cassel attorney representing Whiting-Turner, declined
to comment on the lawsuits.
It appears that other issues with the condominium were raised in an Aug. 5,
2016, court document. It’s argued that there was a settlement between the
developer, association and general contractor that settled issues with
defects after a structural report.
Whiting-Turner and Weathertrol, who filed this motion for partial summary
judgment, argued that the settlement prevents the association from raising
issue with some of the structural defects it named in its lawsuit, according
to the filing.
Developer Related, which hasn’t been sued over the alleged defects, declined
to comment through a spokesperson.