The owner of a high-profile apartment building on peninsular Charleston is suing several businesses involved in its construction, claiming defects led to water intrusion, termites and loss of tenants at a cost so far of more than $4 million.
E.C. Lofts LLC, which bought East Central Lofts on Huger Street near the Ravenel Bridge in 2015, alleges in federal court that problems in the construction and design caused moisture damage on the outside walls of the 72-unit structure.
The apartment building opened in 2013.
The owner is suing for breach of contract and negligence.
Those being sued include general contractor Tauer LLC of Marietta, Ga., project architect McMillan Pazdan Smith of Greenville, window subcontractor Port City Glass & Mirror Inc. of Charleston, facade subcontractor Premier Exteriors of Ridgeland, wall and window water-resistant applicator First Exteriors of North Charleston, and Tauer's bonding agent, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. of Boston.
Tauer and Port City Glass & Mirror have dissolved since working on the project.
The defendants either declined to comment or did not return messages seeking responses to the lawsuit.
Last summer, the owner — a joint venture of Federal Capital Partners and Kane Development — began shoring up the structure with new window treatments. The work remains unfinished.
The investors bought the building three years ago this month for $12.4 million and allege in the lawsuit they were unaware of the problems concealed behind the facade until after the historic rainfall and flooding in October 2016.
"Several tenants complained of water infiltration around the windows in their apartment units," according to the suit.
The owner initially believed water intrusion was localized and storm-related, but further review revealed extensive damage, including rotting wood frames around many windows and termite infiltration.
E.C. Lofts hired an engineer to evaluate the problems, who determined "they were caused by massive failures in the apartments' original construction."
The complaint alleges some of the defendants were aware of the water-resistant barrier problems when the building was under construction. The owner also said defendants rushed to complete the job without insuring repairs were made.
The lawsuit notes the architect observed the water-resistant barrier was delaminating and peeling apart in July 2013 and needed to be corrected before facade panels were installed. It also alleges no notations were made to make sure problems were corrected.
The suit claims the exterior panels were installed over the defective water-proofing material before it could be inspected further for installation compliance.
The owner said it asked the general contractor and the bonding company to make repairs or collaborate on them but ended up doing them alone.
The suit claims tenants have been forced to relocate at the owner's expense during repairs and some have opted not to renew leases, resulting in lost revenue.
The case was filed in state court in late December before being transferred to federal court in Charleston earlier this month.
Last year, the owners announced the name of the rental complex would be changed to Meeting Street Lofts and the structure would become part of the adjacent seven-story apartment development they are building next door. It's set to open later this year.