Little movement on “nuisance” house in Spanish Fort

By Andre Ramey, WPMI | SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WPMI)

An upscale, unfinished Spanish Fort house is at the center of a lawsuit. Work stopped after fears it could collapse surfaced, but the fixes, two years later, are still being debated. We first investigated this project last year and tonight Local 15’s Andrea Ramey reports on what’s being done to address the nuisance in this Reality Check.

From the front, it looks like any other construction project. But go around the corner, and it quickly becomes apparent, there are big problems with this build.

“It’s not safe as we stand here no. I mean we are at some risk as we stand here now. The walls could collapse without any warning,” said structural engineer Jim Mallett in August 2014.

Mallett inspected the home for a prospective buyer. Last year, he told us “the defects are so severe… demolition is the only option.” Today, the house remains virtually untouched.

“If it was that dangerous then, it’s even more dangerous now,” said attorney Scott Yeager.

Yeager represents the neighbors on either side of the home, who have now filed a lawsuit. They claim the City of Spanish Fort and the builder, Colony Homes, are both negligent in creating, what they saw is a neighborhood hazard.

“The biggest concern is the safety for their children,” said Yeager.

Since our first report, a front door, safety railing, and security netting has gone up at the home, but the structural integrity of the building is still a concern.

“There’s concern it could just fall, it could fall either direction,” said Yeager.

A judge in May dismissed Spanish Fort from the lawsuit, but a month later, Colony Homes countersued the city. According to court documents, Colony claims the city’s proposal to fix the foundation are “unnecessary” and “overly burdensome.”

“They’re just pointing fingers at each other.” said Yeager.

Colony claims “five different engineers or foundation companies” have presented solutions but the city has rejected all of them for no reason. Because of the ongoing litigation, Spanish Fort’s attorney could not say much but was confident there will be movement with the project in the next few months. It’s currently reviewing a new engineering plan submitted by Colony six weeks ago.

“The city and the parties are working hopefully to come up with a resolution that would result in a fix to the property and move the property forward,” said attorney David Conner.

A promise that doesn’t mean much anymore to the neighbors.

“I’ve heard to two years we have a fix. We have a fix. We’re ready to go. Well, clearly that’s not been the case,” said Yeager.

Yeager says the city could have declared this property a nuisance and had it torn down. The city says it’s never exercised its authority to do that.