MANHATTAN (KSNT) – More than 150 people could be displaced in Manhattan if an apartment complex is condemned.

KSNT 27 News spoke with Andrew Lawson, a City of Manhattan spokesman, about the state of the four-story Royal Towers Apartment complex. Located at 1700 North Manhattan Ave., this complex has been at the center of numerous complaints from residents stemming from the poor condition of walkways and stairwells which are falling apart or rusting in numerous spots. Some took to TikTok to show the condition of the complex, garnering over four million views.

In response to these videos, the Manhattan Fire Department sent its Risk Reduction Division to assess the building for possible code violations in December 2022. Several violations were identified and a notice was sent to the owner, listed as TD Invest LLC, of the building to have it evaluated by a structural engineer. Going further back, in 2019, the MFD said there were similar concerns and the owner completed repairs.

Lawson said a notice of condemnation has been sent to the current owner with several deadlines for different steps in the correction process. He said the first deadline for corrective action is March 16.

“If the owner fails to do what is required by each deadline, the building will be placarded as condemned and a notice to vacate will be issued,” Lawson said. “We don’t want all residents to move out at the same time, as that may stress the walkways and stairwells. The fire department’s Risk Reduction Division will work with residents to move out in phases over time, based upon input from an engineer.”

Lawson went on to say that the property manager sent an engineering report to the City of Manhattan that stated that, “walkways should be limited to foot traffic only, moving operations of heavy furniture should be halted until [temporary] shoring is in place.”

The notice of condemnation sent to the property owner cites “widespread spalling of concrete walkways and stairs with areas where concrete is cracked, pulverized, buckled, dislodged, or completely missing exposing deteriorated steel.” It goes on to say that the walking areas have deteriorated to the point it is hazardous to move about on.

Lawson said the property owner is cooperating and has hired an engineer. According to a Feb. 22 letter from the MFD’s Risk Reduction team, the property owners have until April 1, 2023 to apply for a building permit and submit plans for the design and construction of the full restoration repairs.

While the building might avoid being condemned in the immediate future, the city is willing to step in to help residents that want to move out before the next deadline date on March 16. Due to the current status of the structure, Lawson said they are working with the 151 residents to move them out in phases to help ensure they have a new home and they won’t place additional stress on the building’s walkways.

Elliot Ligtenberg, a student at Kansas State University and a current resident of Royal Towers, said she has been living there for the past five years. She and many other concerned residents are looking for new places to live due to the poor condition of the building. Ligtenberg cited numerous deficiencies with the structure of the apartment.

“Quiet honestly, it’s bad,” Ligtenberg said. “There’s more than just the walkways and stairwells in disrepair.”

Ligtenberg said there are “systemic issues” with the building such as large cracks in several places, crumbling concrete and exposed rebar on the exterior. She said her apartment is riddled with cracks, has had issues with mold on the walls and frequently leaks when it rains.

(Video From Elliot Ligtenberg)

“I am in the process of moving out right now,” Ligtenberg said. “I no longer feel safe there.”

Ligtenberg doesn’t believe there has been enough communication with the residents. She also expressed concern for people looking for a new place to live in light of recent events with the apartment’s integrity. Ligtenberg said she has recently noticed a man on the property working on the walkways.

(Photos Courtesy/Elliot Ligtenberg)

Another resident, Logan Willt, spoke with KSNT 27 News Reporter Gabriel Johnson at the apartment about the state of the building.

“Your hands are kinda tied because it’s like you’re in the middle of the semester, where else are you supposed to go?” Willt said. “I mean I’m six plus months into my lease and now I’m probably gonna have to be looking for a new place to live so that’s never fun.”

To view the full notice of condemnation for the Royal Towers Apartment complex from the Manhattan Fire Department’s Risk Reduction team, check out the document below:

1700 N Manhattan Ave- Royal Towers- Notice of Condemnation- by Matthew Self on Scribd

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