Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published March 21, 2019
WEST PALM BEACH — A 12-year-old downtown condo once
gutted to replace Chinese drywall, again finds itself subject to repairs,
after vibrations from sanding in a vacant apartment set off a fire sprinkler
Thursday that sent water cascading through 37 units.
Dry-out work continued
in 10 units Tuesday afternoon at the Whitney building
building at 410 Evernia Street.
West Palm Beach Fire Rescue got the call at 4:28 p.m. and
shut off off the water at a stairwell standpipe within 15
minutes. They found 20 people evacuated to the lobby, as the
fire alarm had gone off; another five people came down after
The shut-off meant fire watch procedures were instituted
throughout building, meaning all residents were notified of
the situation, Assistant Fire Chief Brent Bloomfield said.
According to Joe Pierman, general manager of the Whitney
Condominium Association, staff immediately began sopping up
the water and called in a water remediation company after
the sprinkler went off in unit 702, on the 7th floor.
After several hours, rooms for renters from three of the
apartments were located in a Ramada Inn at 1901 Palm Beach
Lakes Blvd., owned by developer Jeff Greene, who owns 139
units at the Whitney. The hotel was full but there were
cancellations, Greene said Tuesday.
Two were staying for two nights, one for one night, Greene
Josh Myers, who rents
the unit next to 702, said after getting bitten by bed bugs
at the Ramada, he requested other lodgings but was denied.
He used his renters insurance to pay for lodgings elsewhere.
Myers said he was
allowed to gather belongings but was told he won’t be able
to move back in for about five days. He rents his
two-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot apartment in the Whitney for
$2,300, he said.
Water pooled in corridors at the Whitney after one
fire sprinkler let loose.
No one was injured in the incident but water streaming from the pressurized
system left ceilings and walls on the east side of the building sodden and
peeling. Hallways looked like lakes.
If a sprinkler puts out 75 gallons a minute and it takes 10 minutes to get
it turned off, that’s 750 gallons cascading through the building, Bloomfield
“Nobody’s hurt, all responses worked appropriately,” general manager Pierman
said. “These things happen. They happen in every building. We’re drying it
If there had been a real fire, people would have been happy the sprinkler
system worked so well, he said.
The building has been through worse.
At the time it was under construction in the mid-2000s, American-made
drywall was in short supply, sapped by demand from the U.S. building boom
and the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Faced with a
shortage, many builders imported Chinese drywall.
The first Whitney owners took possession of their units in 2007, at the
height of the real estate bubble, and real estate values immediately
plummeted as recession gripped the nation. Things got worse at the Whitney
when the drywall proved laden with sulfur, which quickly corroded copper
pipes and wire.
Residents couldn’t fathom why their air conditioning units kept breaking
down, or why their microwave buttons stopped working. Some even saw their
television screens malfunction and their silver jewelry tarnish.
The building underwent a major renovation, including new AC units and
refrigerators and new patio furniture on a rooftop deck and new lights in