Responding to a report in The Minnesota Daily revealing numerous safety problems at an apartment complex near the University of Minnesota campus, the Minneapolis Building & Construction Trades Council is calling for stronger vetting of developers and contractors.
In an article published Monday by the student newspaper, reporter Cleo Krejci writes, “Investigations of a University-area apartment show developers of the building repeatedly broke deadlines and forced students to keep leases for apartments that shouldn't have been approved to take in any residents at all.”
The article, based on interviews and a report from a private inspection conducted Nov. 1 at the Prime Place Apartments building in Prospect Park, cites construction and fire code violations throughout the complex. On Oct. 2, the City of Minneapolis granted a temporary certificate of occupancy — finding the building complied with state and city building codes — which allowed residents to move into its completed portions, Krejci writes.
“The report showed the occupied portion of the apartment [building], where more than 100 students are living, has a host of problems that violate city code and raise serious fire-safety concerns,” the article states.
“In addition, half of the apartment remains an unsecured construction site several months after move-in day.”
Among those interviewed is Bernard McClellan, former Prime Place construction site supervisor, who resigned “over construction flaws and management concerns.” McClellan told the Daily, “You can see the complete lack of care and the lack of professionalism in every inch of that building.”
The article includes interviews with students who say the living conditions have impacted their physical, mental and academic well-being.
The Minneapolis Building & Construction Trades Council, whose affiliates represent some 15,000 unionized construction workers in the Twin Cities west metro, brought in an expert consultant to help document issues with the project and bring them to the attention of the proper authorities and the public.
“This is just the latest example of an out-of-state contractor coming in and performing unacceptable work,” said Dan McConnell, the council’s business manager. “How we ever got to this stage is very troubling. We have gone beyond just being concerned about inconveniencing students who wanted to live in this development to now calling for better vetting of contractors who are allowed to do work in our state . . .
“Things need to change from the perspective of how we prevent developers-contractors like Prime Place/Prime Built from coming to our state and doing sub-par work. We were shocked when we learned that tenants were allowed to move in while the building is in its current state.”
McConnell is calling for stronger vetting of developers and contractors as well as stronger coordination when it comes to building inspections, fire inspections, certificates of occupancy, and issuance of rental licenses.