Residents of The Representative, 12-story, luxury condominium building in Arlington, have blocked settlement on the last nine vacant apartments in the building with a petition filed in Arlington Circuit Court last week.
The petition filed by 82 condominium owners in the building freezes the assets of Representative Inc., a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Bank, which owns the vacant apartments, while the court decides whether the subsidiary should be responsible for repairing building defects at an estimated cost of $1 million.
The defects listed by the residents include water seepage, exterior peeling, faulty installation of windows and balcony doors and poor quality workmanship and maintenance on wallpaper, carpet, elevators and the security system.
The building was originally developed by Arlington Ridge Road Associates, which was partially owned by former Rep. Joel T. Broyhill (R-Va.) and Fairfax developer John Deluca. It was sold at a bankruptcy sale in 1976 to Chase Manhattan because Ridge Road and American Realty Trust, which guaranteed payment by Ridge Road, failed to repay a $12 million construction loan to the New York bank.
The residents' petition maintains that water seepage, the major problem, resulted because the builder failed to follow the architect's specifications when applying the surface coating. A more porous mixture was used instead, the residents said.
Because of the high cost of repairing the building, which sits on Arlington Ridge near Rte. 395, residents said they fear that once the final settlements are complete Representative Inc. will not have enough assets to fix the defects.
If the settlements are completed, tenants "foresee the possibility very shortly . . . that Representative Inc. will become a corporate shell (with its assets being diverted to Chase Manhattan)," said one condominium owner, who asked not to be identified. Representative Inc. contracted with a waterproofing firm to correct the seepage, but some parts of the building still leak, the resident said.The leaking has caused major damage in about six apartments, he said.
Most other owners said the individual damage to their units had been minimal.
"I wouldn't call it extensive, I would call it annoying," said Gloria Comeman, who has lived in the building since June. "It's a little discomforting." She said the small amount of water that has leaked into her unit has left no visible damage and said she finds the security system adequate.
The residents said, however, that they are tired of waiting for the repairs to be made. They said Representative Inc. has been informed of the problems during the last 18 months.
"It's been a bit of a headache to get them to come and do it," Peggy Dubriske said. ". . . (But) we're essentially very happy here."
According to the court petition, the residents do not want to stop the sale of the apartments. Instead they are asking that the proceeds from the settlements on the last apartments, which are expected to become final by mid-September, be placed in a special trust account for possible use in repairing the building after the court resolves the dispute.