PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For about the past 3 months, residents at the Celio apartment complex in Northwest Portland said they’ve been putting up with noise and disruption as parts of their building are under construction.
The tenants staged a peaceful sit-in and are considering picketing the owners at the complex, 901 SW King Avenue. The residents said in addition to the hallway noise, construction crews are going from unit to unit making repairs.
“For the last about 3 months they’ve been doing a re-piping project here inside the building and it’s been very invasive to us,” resident Kevin McGraham told KOIN 6 News. “They are going to be in everyone’s apartment for 11, 12 days. We are not going to have access to a bathroom or a kitchen during that time.”
Although residents are allowed to stay during construction, they argue at times the space won’t be very usable.
“I can’t deal with the noise every single day anymore,” resident Daylily Kiousis said. “It’s like a cacophony all around me. I can hear the floor above me, then 2 floors below me. It’s just all this banging at once.”
“I also had an incident where they tore down the roof and I came home and my whole closet was covered in dirt and soot just from the ceiling,” said resident Carolina James.
The group held a sit-in within the building Wednesday in protest, hoping to negotiate what they consider better compensation for what’s been going on.
Another resident, Keith Behr, said, “The noise and the disruptions, it’s really quite offensive.”
Officials said the work being done is two-fold: replacing all hot and cold water lines and making improvements to the roof.
The tenants group said Celio management started negotiating a deduction off their rent for one month, but they feel that’s not enough.
“They are still unwilling to budge above 57% for one month with the in-unit construction,” McGraham said.
The group feels they should be compensated for more than one month since the project has been ongoing and will continue for quite some time.
Commerce Properties manages the Celio and sent KOIN 6 News a response to the residents complaints about construction:
“We recognize the inconvenience that the construction causes our residents and have offered rent reductions, accommodations, and service reimbursements that exceed all legal obligations.”
Read their full statement below
While debate over compensation continues, residents said they’re also frustrated they are losing access to the roof. Residents shared an email with KOIN 6 News from Celio management in mid-June that said the city of Portland will not longer allow resident access to any roof area because it does not compley with current ADA building code and emergency exit requirements.
“They were still giving tours of the roof deck a month ago,” one resident said.
KOIN 6 News checked with the Portland Bureau of Development Services and documents show that in November 2018 a senior city housing inspector found code violations for unpermitted work on the roof deck. They stated structural work on some bathrooms and sinks were done without obtaining building and plumbing requirements.
However, a spokesperson for BDS said the city is not forcing the property owner to permanently shut down the roof access for tenants. The Portland fire marshal has not yet returned a request for comment from KOIN 6 News.
Residents of the Celio told KOIN 6 News they have talked with attorneys about taking legal action at some point down the road. McGraham said more than 100 tenants joined the group.
“We’ve got legal counsel and they will be guiding us on how we proceed,” McGraham said.
Full statement from Commerce Properties:
“Commerce Properties is locally-owned with deep roots in the Portland community. We’ve proudly served our valued residents at Celio Apartments since 2008. During this time, we have invested in ongoing improvements, continuing in the caretaking tradition of the building.
“We are currently making additional important improvements to the building. We recognize the inconvenience that the construction causes our residents and have offered rent reductions, accommodations, and service reimbursements that exceed all legal obligations.
“The work being performed is twofold; the first is replacing all hot and cold water lines. The second is roof improvements. We are replacing the roof and made the decision to close the roof deck due to Portland Fire Marshall concerns.
“Some residents have expressed concerns about lead in the public water supply. Recent testing does not raise any concerns about lead levels. To take further precautions, we are ordering and conducting another test, following EPA-approved methods.
“Each resident has an individualized contract with Celio Apartments and may choose to communicate directly with us independently or collectively with their specific questions and needs. As always, we strive to accommodate all reasonable requests from our residents.”