[image-1]Residents at the Flats at Mixson were caught off guard earlier this week by the news that they may be forced from their homes, but the struggle to sort out who is at fault for the beleaguered development’s structural issues has been ongoing for almost a year.

After receiving notice of the development’s “prolonged water intrusion problem” in late March, the City of North Charleston’s chief building official completed a preliminary investigation and found that structures on the property have “interior and exterior deterioration and are hazards and/or dangers to the community,” according to court documents filed by the city. North Charleston spokesman Ryan Johnson says the city has not asked for the residents to be removed, nor set a time frame to remove the residents, but the property owner has been asked to assemble a plan to relocate tenants. Mixson’s ultimate fate will be decided following a formal hearing May 23, but a look at what led up to this moment shows a history of problems at the 268-unit apartment complex.

Last August, the Flats at Mixson LP filed court documents detailing their allegations against the Samet Corporation, the general contractor for the development project, and more than a dozen subcontractors. Mixson claims that the stucco that made up the exterior of the development began cracking just two months after the Flats at Mixson were completed and the buildings were almost fully occupied in 2014. The owners say it was at this point that consultants found signs of water infiltration that resulted in further damage to the structures. It is at this point that Samet and the subcontractors were called back in to reassess the development.

Mixson claims that its consultants found, “wholesale rotting of wood studs … reversed slopped concrete, stucco that was too thick, installed materials that were not specified, incorrectly installed details, structurally unsound balconies, and evidence of termite infestation due to extensive water infiltration even though the buildings were less than a year old.”

By July 2015, the City of North Charleston Fire Department and Building Department had issued a letter to Mixson declaring that the repair work on one of the development’s buildings had made it unsafe for occupants who were soon ordered to vacate. The owner’s complaint filed in August states, “Mixson expects similar notices to be issued if and when other buildings at the project are repaired.”

In a response to Mixson’s allegations regarding structural issues at the complex, Samet argues that the “plans and specifications provided by [Mixson] to Samet contained errors, omissions, and improper material selection that have resulted in the damages” presented in their complaint. Faced with legal action, Samet went on to deny that they breached their promise of “workmanlike service,” but passed the blame to the other defendants in the case — the subcontractors.

In what has become a nesting doll of allegations and counterclaims, it’s unclear who will take the fall for the problems at Mixson. But while the owners and contractors battle it out in court, those most affected are left looking for a place to stay. 

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