Mike Canova, the code enforcement supervisor for Carrboro’s inspections department, said about 20 of Collins Crossing’s stairwells need repair.
“The building was built in the mid-’70s,” he said. “Over time, weathering and salting have decayed them.”
Canova said the town has been working with the building’s owners to fix these problems for about two years.
Richard Cox, deputy fire chief for Carrboro Fire-Rescue, said another person fell through a stair in a different building at the complex in November of last year, prompting town staff to do an inspection and meet with then-owner Tar Heel Companies to discuss plans for repairs.
But Canova said renovations have been slow because the building, formerly known as Abbey Court Condominiums, has changed management multiple times.
He said the previous owner repaired four or five of the stairwells, and the current owner, Alcurt Carrboro LLC, is working with engineers to plan for repairs.
Aspen Square Management, the property manager, did not return four calls for comment.
Throughout the past two months, Collins Crossing residents, many of whom are low-income Burmese and Latino immigrants, and local advocates have protested Aspen Square’s management of the complex.
Residents have complained of rising rents, unfair management practices and unsafe conditions.
The most recent incident prompted the town to conduct another inspection on Friday and Monday.
And Canova said some of the completed repairs were not done correctly.
“They put new stringers in and new stair treads in, and some of them weren’t welded thoroughly,” he said.
Canova said he is working on a report on all of the findings of the inspection, which will be sent to the town manager and planning director.
According to an email from Town Manager David Andrews, Collins Crossing has 90 days — until March 4 — to repair the stairs.
And Canova said the town is taking this issue seriously.
“I am sensitive to the occupants, but I am charged to protect them,” he said. “But I don’t want to displace people if it’s not necessary to displace them.”
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