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By Lisa Loomis
Mountainside Condominium Association has selected a company to rebuild the 36 units that were destroyed in a fire last winter.
Thirty-six Mountainside Condominiums were destroyed by a fast-burning fire on February 17. Sixty to 75 firefighters from Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown, Waterbury, Stowe and Berlin battled the blaze, which was called in around 1:30 a.m.
The condominium complex was 100 percent full for the holiday week, including owners and renters plus pets. Everyone (and their pets) escaped without injury and one family credited their dog with waking them up to sound the alarm. Mountainside had 90 residential and 7 commercial condominium units in three separate buildings. The building that burned is the closest building to Sugarbush's Out to Lunch Trail.
Since the fire the association's board of directors, subcommittees and property management company (Mad River Property Management, Inc.) have demolished the building and foundation area while also vetting architects and design/build companies for the rebuild. After the association's annual meeting in June, the association awarded contracts to Engelberth Construction, Inc. as the design/build project management team, Erickson Consulting as the coordinating representative for the association and WorldClaim Global Claims Management Company as the association's public adjusters.
"We had a very successful owner's meeting on June 21 where owners were given a PowerPoint presentation on the expertise and award-winning experience of Engelberth Construction, Inc. (ECI) including the process, schedule and tandem working relationships of WorldClaim and Erickson Consulting," said Ed Read, property manager. He said that the meeting flowed with an open forum where owners interacted with the team of professionals that will be responsible for the multimillion-dollar rebuild.
The association is taking a fast-track approach with plans to have owners in their rebuilt residences in time for the 2015-16 ski season. One of the factors that influenced the condo owners' selection of Engelberth Construction is their recent restoration of a 130-student dorm restoration at Middlebury College where the company had an average of 120 workers on the site daily for 15 weeks with crews working 10- to 12-hour days six days a week.
"Another benefit is the ability to hit the ground running due to well-established working relationships with companies in the Mad River Valley from ECI's most recent projects at Rice Brook and Green Mountain Valley School Sports Center. The successful and timely completion of these examples is a testament to the benefits of detailed preconstruction planning and a hard working dedicated team," said condominium spokesperson Nannette Poillon McCoy.
That ambitious schedule will see design team partners named by July 7, construction documents complete by September 12, construction starting by October 13, 2014, and completed by October 1, 2015.
The Mountainside Condo project has the challenge of 36 units each with a different level of finish work. Having teamed together in the past with ECI, one of the roles of Erickson Consulting is the point person in the coordination of the individual elements of each unit as well as the communicator for the board of directors along with the property manager.
Because a condominium association has individually owned and insured units within jointly owned and insured structures, the demo and reconstruction require extra effort.
When a condominium is subject to being demolished and rebuilt there are a number of issues that come into play simultaneously. The association's insurance covers the structure and mechanical aspects of the building while the interior elements are subject to the type of insurance carried by either the association or the individual unit owner. The Vermont Mutual policy covering Mountainside included coverage for replacement of the physical elements of each unit as it was the day of the fire. Additional coverage was in place for all required code upgrades. Documentation for the layout and fit and finish (flooring, appliances, cabinetry, etc.) of each of the 36 units has been acquired by WorldClaim Public Adjusters to recreate the building and the individual units in order to value the building as it was the day of the fire. Personal contents are covered under the individual unit owner's policy.
While the building is grandfathered under its original permits it will be rebuilt to current codes and state and local permitting will be required.
SEEKING YEAR-ROUND LEASES
With plans under way to rebuild the condos, there are still many Mountainside owners who are seeking winter or year-round leases, especially those with pets. McCoy said that the demographic of condo owners is primarily older couples or families close to retirement and younger families with young children.
"We have a half a dozen or more couples who are retiring within the next year who were going to move to Vermont and either remain in their condo or live there until they buy or build a new home," McCoy said.
The second largest group of homeowners is families with young children under 5 years old. She said there are about a dozen such families, quite a few of them from Burlington who arrive to ski every weekend.
The final section of the demographic is owners who either use their condos in the summer and rent them in the winter or vice versa. There are two units that are investment units in the building.