Quantum on the Bay condominiums at 1900 N. Bayshore Dr. (J. Albert Diaz)
Residents of Miami’s Quantum on the Bay condominiums claim the developer left them holding the bag—several giant sandbags they’re forced to use to quell flooding at the luxury towers.
Developer Terra Group did a shoddy job on the 698-condo development, cutting corners and leaving behind hundreds of defects from jammed doorknobs to stucco crumbling from a tower and landing on the pool deck, residents charged in a lawsuit.
“Something has got to happen,” condo owner Douglas Tutt said. “The developers, the engineers and the businesses that profit from this move on, but unless you’ve taken serious steps or take them to court, you leave the people who’ve come in as homeowners to pick up the tab.”
Quantum condos prices range from $229,000 for studios to $1.15 million for penthouses, according to listings. Monthly rents run from $1,750 to $5,500. But instead of luxury amenities, residents say they discovered a slew of hidden flaws in the development at 1900 N. Bayshore Drive.
“The unit owners want to have the property that should have been delivered to them,” said residents’ attorney Jeffrey S. Respler, a shareholder at Siegfried, Rivera, Hyman, Lerner, De La Torre, Mars & Sobel. “At the end of the day, we’re not looking for a windfall. We’re only looking to be made whole.”
To get the developers to pay for repairs, three homeowner associations in the condo development filed separate suits in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in December, demanding a jury trial against Terra Group, its engineers, builder and other Quantum consultants.
The suit names as defendants Terra Adi-International Bayshore LLC, builder Facchina-McGaughan LLC, architects Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates Inc., contractor Fred McGilvray Inc., Florida Engineering Services Inc., VSN Engineering Inc., Gopman Consulting Engineers Inc. and John J. Kirlin LLC, a Maryland-based firm that specializes in plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
It alleges 17 counts of negligence, professional negligence, breach of common law-implied warranties, violation of minimum building codes and violation of local, state and national building codes.
The residents contend the developers have known about the defects since building Quantum in 2008, and their attorneys are requesting documentation that they say will show contractors advised Terra against using the selected drainage wells.
“During the time when these were being built, there was a shortage of labor supply,” Tutt said. “People did anything just to get the work completed. They essentially cut corners to get things done because they saw the sky was falling.”
In a notice of claim filed in 2011, a master association and two others representing residents in Quantum’s north and south towers identified 813 infrastructure flaws.
“The biggest problem is whenever there’s even a minor rain event, there’s flooding,” Respler said. “Every single day, the association people have to go out and pump the drainage wells in this luxury development. If not, there’s flooding—even when there’s no rain.”
Sandbags line a service area to keep out water during storms, and residents say they’ve had to repair swamped elevators.
“The parties who we know are responsible are pointing fingers at each other. We are just the end users. We weren’t there when it was being built,” Respler said. “The bottom-line fix is we’re probably going to have to move the drains to the front of the property. The speculation is the building was built too low.”
There also are leaky roofs, corroded air-conditioning vents and a faulty ventilation system that sucks in odors from a nearby septic tank, residents said.
“It was just uncomfortable for a long time,” said Tutt, who heads two of the homeowner associations.
Terra and its affiliates appear to have responded to residents’ complaints. Since the associations served the claim notice, residents removed about 160 “defects” from their long list.
The developers’ attorneys, Michael Thomas and Christopher Barnett, both of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
“We do not comment on ongoing litigation matters,” said Martin. “However, we will make sure this matter is expeditiously and responsibly resolved in the appropriate forum.”
Martin went on to say, “Lawsuits of this nature are routinely and professionally resolved by the parties to the lawsuit in court or via agreement after an careful examination of the merits of the claim. The best interest of the unit owners is not advanced by litigating these matters in the news media. “
“They’ve been working to resolve some of the issues,” Tutt said. “The small things that don’t really cost any money they came back around and repaired. But when it comes to the larger issues that we’re claiming, they’ve been nonresponsive.”
The suit doesn’t specify a request for damages, but residents say they’ve spent nearly $1 million on repairs, attorney fees and an engineer to solve their flood problems.
The case, Quantum on the Bay Master Association v. Terra Adi-International Bayshore et al was assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey. It’s still in the discovery stages, and no date has been set for trial.
It won’t be the first time Terra Group has gone to court over allegations of construction defects at one of its luxury developments. Its 900 Biscayne project was at the center of a lawsuit when Terra sued the project’s builder for alleged defects including faulty waterproofing and air-conditioning. That case was 900 Biscayne v. Pavarini Construction.
This time, Quantum owners say they’re the ones left to foot the bill for defective work.
“We’re talking millions of dollars to do the repairs,” Tutt said.