As is well known by now, the city has selected Lennar and Catellus as joint developers for Alameda Point. However, two recent reports in the local press do not inspire confidence in Lennar’s capabilities.
In March, the Chronicle reported a lawsuit against Lennar:
A development firm building 1,600 new homes at the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has allowed clouds of toxic construction dust to escape from the site, exposing neighbors and schoolchildren to potentially harmful, airborne asbestos, two company executives say.
The allegations are particularly troubling, given that Alameda Point has its own share of toxic materials that need cleaning up before any construction activitiy can commence.
The former shipyard (Hunters Point) is prime real estate, but is listed as a Superfund site because of massive toxic contamination, a legacy of its long history as a Navy base. Asbestos is an additional concern because veins of the fibrous mineral are naturally present in the bedrock at the site. Inhaling dust-borne asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and other medical problems.
In their lawsuit, the executives said that after heavy grading of the site began in the spring of 2006, Lennar refused to shut down work, even when monitoring devices showed the asbestos content of construction dust was more than triple the state allowance. At other times, monitoring equipment wasn’t functioning properly, and the company had no idea whether it was in compliance or not, the lawsuit said.
And if this wasn’t bad enough, today’s Chronicle reports of problems with shoddy construction at an upmarket residential complex built by Lennar in San Francisco.
When Michael Cullen used the stove at his new $1.5 million penthouse in San Francisco’s trendy South Beach, the ventilation failed and his condo filled with smoke. When he filled his spacious new bathtub, it leaked, soaking subflooring beneath bathroom tile and damaging wood paneling.
Cullen and other owners of condominiums at the 240-unit residential complex at 200 Brannan Street have been threatening lawsuits and battling the builder over defects, including uneven floors, improper ventilation, crooked balconies and shoddy cabinetry. Water seeps into the building’s garage. Garage door malfunctions have led to thefts of bicycles and raised security concerns.
Whilst not every homeowner has had the same problems listed above, the consensus among observers in the building industry speaks for itself.
But observers in the building industry said the kinds of problems owners have complained about should have been repaired long ago and shouldn’t remain unresolved for more than one year.
“No new development will be 100 percent defect-free, but the real issue is did they react in a timely manner,” said Joseph Perkins, executive director of the Homebuilders Association of Northern California. “These kinds of problems should be rectified immediately.”
Perkins said the fact that homeowners would go public with their problems indicates they are serious, because the future value of their homes could be jeopardized by doing so.