By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
City officials and the owners of Arbor Village Apartments have agreed on a plan to repair leaking gas lines that led to the forced evacuation of tenants earlier this month.
Anderson Building Commissioner Frank Owens, who presided over the meeting between his staff and Arbor Village’s owners, Tom Stanley and Bryan Manning, said the goal is to make the apartment complex habitable again as quickly as possible.
“I think they didn’t quite understand our level of concern. Now they do ... I think they understand what we need,” Owens said. “I think they’ve got enough invested in these buildings that they’re not going to walk away from them.”
City officials declared the 96-unit apartment complex in the 1800 block of East Eighth Street unsafe and issued a vacate order after Vectren Energy inspectors discovered gas leaks in all five buildings on Dec. 5. The apartments were partially evacuated a day earlier when another gas leak was discovered.
J.R. Builta, a local attorney representing the owners, called the meeting with city staff earlier this week “frank and cordial,” adding that both sides have developed a good plan to accomplish repairs.”
Details of the plan include replacing gas piping embedded in concrete for 12 boilers and bringing them up to current building codes.
In addition, gas piping for the stoves in all five units will have to be replaced and rerouted. Finally, the chimney flue liner for one building needs replacement, and all others need to be checked and replaced if necessary.
Builta said that when the complex was built in the mid-1960s it was common practice to bury iron and steel gas lines in concrete. The problem with that practice, experts have learned since, is that concrete speeds the deterioration of iron and steel.
He added that when Stanley and Manning bought the Arbor Village property, it had been in bank receivership for at least five years and was in terrible shape.
Builta said they invested $800,000 in the apartments, work that included the installation of new windows and roofs, “and they had a bunch of happy tenants.”
Problems with the gas lines only surfaced recently, he said.
As early as last spring, however, there were plans to convert from gas to electric heat at the complex, according to a mechanical contractor whom the owners consulted with about the project.
Steve Kreps of Best Mechanical LLC reviewed the plan with Stanley and his maintenance staff and not only advised against it, but said the city would never approve the plan because the original 60-amp electrical service to the complex would not be able to support the electricity demand.
Although Builta said he has not been asked to help the owners deal with the expenses and inconvenience tenants have had to face, they will meet their legal requirements “promptly and in due course.”
“I can assure you these guys are taking their responsibilities seriously.”
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