City of Fort Collins officials have received engineering reports that point to the cause of structural problems that forced a 3-year-old apartment building to close in July.

Greystar, the property management company for the Union on Plum apartment complex, said the city’s miscalculations in the original shear wall design resulted in the building being closed at 1323 W. Plum St., moving approximately 220 Colorado State University students for the 2021-2022 academic year, according to Marcus Coldiron, interim building manager for Fort Collins.

The city did not do its own analysis but inspected the building after it closed and found no visible signs of structural damage, he said.

Shear walls are vertical members designed to strengthen structures to resist lateral forces like wind, said Steve Spanjer, a custom home builder in Fort Collins.

Lateral forces caused by wind, earthquakes and uneven settlement loads, in addition to the weight of a structure and its occupants, create powerful torsional forces, according to Civil Simplified, a civil engineering website.

Shear walls help strengthen structures so that they are much less likely to move or shift.

Bracing walls are calculated based on wind loads, dead loads, including brick and mortar, as well as live loads – residents and their property, Spanjer said.

Previously:Fort Collins investigates cause for closure of Union on Plum student housing complex

Calculation errors could lead to things “like cracks in the stucco or drywall, doors not closing properly, or cracks in the floor,” Spanjer said.

The severity of the problems can range from simple cracks in floors and walls to, in extreme circumstances, a building collapse.

Dino DiTullio, a member of the company that owns the building, told Coloradoan in July that repairs were needed on the walls, including some interior parts of the building, but the building was safe.

The owners and the management company “took a conservative approach and opted out of the entire building,” making repairs easier, said DiTullio.

As of last week, building owners had yet to apply for building permits to make the necessary repairs, Coldiron said.

A resident who left the building in July said he had had a crack in his ceiling for months.

The building opened in 2018 and rents single rooms, mostly to students.

Investigation:In Fort Collins, apartments are scarce and cost more

Leases for incoming residents have been canceled, but the management company has struggled to find space in its other buildings, including Union on Alley, Union on Elizabeth, Pura Vida and Carriage House. Those who chose to cancel their leases had to get a full refund.

The project was developed by EdR Collegiate Housing of Memphis, Tennessee, who also developed Union on Elizabeth which opened last year. EdR merged in 2018 with a subsidiary of Greystar Real Estate Partners.

Pat Ferrier is a senior journalist who covers business, health care and growth issues in northern Colorado. Contact her at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a subscription today.

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