This week our KELOLAND News investigation has revealed that Hultgren Construction was taking out a 90 foot wall between Copper Lounge and Skelly’s without the legal permit to do so.
Former builder owner Tim Kant told KELOLAND News that the Fodness family voiced their concerns about cracks in the walls of their loft in the building to Hultgren Construction several times, but that the construction company did nothing. Kant also told us he was informing the City about the problem just moments before the building collapsed.
We’ve also learned that while the City licenses home builders, it does not license commercial contracts. A subcontractor who worked on Hultgren projects came forward to speak out about safety issues he saw on the jobs sites and the wall he saw removed in the Copper Lounge building that he says was without adequate support.
Now, we have uncovered evidence of more questionable work by Hultgren Construction on a couple of its well-known projects.
“There’s a lot of square footage and tables. We should be able to fit a lot of bodies in here,” Hultgren said in a July 14, 2016 interview.
Aaron Hultgren of Hultgren Construction welcomed our news cameras into the old Skelly’s Building last July, as crews were remodeling it to become the PAve Bar.
But our investigation has discovered that fourteen days after our camera took you inside, the building failed its pre-final inspection. KELOLAND News has learned that the inspector felt uncomfortable with the framing and wouldn’t even stay in the building. We’re told the issue was later corrected.
KELOLAND Investigates has also obtained a picture of scaffolding set up outside the front of the building as work progressed. A neighbor called and complained about it to OSHA, because instead of being on level pads that are part of a scaffolding system, you can see it’s placed on wooden blocks and people were still allowed to pass under it. But we’re told the issue was not corrected.
We’ve also obtained video of large debris being thrown into a dump truck below, while the sidewalk remains open and there is no diversion of foot-traffic.
We have confirmed that at least six complaints were made to the City during the PAve construction.
Our cameras were back inside the building three days before PAve opened on August 18th.
“It’ll just give you a really nice, eclectic kind of meal that will be fun and different,” Hultgren said in an August 16, 2016 interview.
But now we are learning that even after the first two floors were allowed to open, the City was still re-inspecting the building for issues that needed correcting. According to the City inspection reports, more than a month later on September 22, the building was re-inspected and finally passed.
And PAve isn’t the only Hultgren Construction project with issues. Remember the $1.3 million condo on Phillips Avenue above J.H. & Sons?
A contractor who worked on the heating and cooling system discovered that Hultgren Construction had cut through its work to put a beam in the ceiling and instead of calling the sub-contractor to make the duct work go around the beam, it was cut and taped back together.
On top of the building, where the hot tub is located, a fire wall is leaning and looks like it’s about to fall down. KELOLAND News has learned this wall has needed to be fixed before.
The neighboring property owner tells KELOLAND News they have contacted Hultgren Construction several times to address concerns about the poorly constructed wall leaning over the roof of their property because they’re worried it could damage their building.
Over a six month period, City inspectors were in PAve 35 times and it failed various aspects of those inspections eight times.
The City says in the end, the only work that wasn’t complete, was the handrail to the basement in an area not accessible by the public.