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3-16-2017 Construction Fire Downtown

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I'm sure there will be an investigation. Then the lawsuits will start. All owners of adjacent properties (and their insurance companies) will be looking for any indication of negligence on the part of the Metropolitan developer, the prime contractor, and the subs. 

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My estranged wife (and routinely my two young children) live on the 3rd floor of the Glen Royall Mills building out in Wake Forest. This incident has been an eye-opener that hit home about the reality of the dangers of having upwards of fifty to a hundred kitchens jammed into these wood framed or structured buildings. I have to admit I've been plagued with anxiety every second my kids have been over there since.

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14 hours ago, NikOnder said:

My estranged wife (and routinely my two young children) live on the 3rd floor of the Glen Royall Mills building out in Wake Forest. This incident has been an eye-opener that hit home about the reality of the dangers of having upwards of fifty to a hundred kitchens jammed into these wood framed or structured buildings. I have to admit I've been plagued with anxiety every second my kids have been over there since.

I am from Wake Forest (essentially) and have been in Royal Mill and also used to live in a different cotton mill (Caraleigh). While certainly full of possible disaster scenarios, those old mills have A) structural brick construction and B) extremely dense, virgin timber hardwood (or possibly long leaf pine which is burn resistant as a species trait) and hence, slower burning, floor and roof joists. None of this yellow pine matchstick stuff. I think, say, a row of townhouses is much less safe (one on Capital Blvd burned down a few years ago). In the case of a mill, an interior wall could get going, but it'd not spread at the rate it would in a modern building and there'd be substantially more time to get out. What was more annoying to us was every time somebody had too much to drink and burned a grilled cheese at 3am, the whole building had to be evacuated since it was all on one giant alarm system. 

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i'll never live in one of these mega wooden match boxes.  it's amazing how many of these things are out there and still going up.

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was a cause of this fire found yet? I am not in the area very curious since these stick built apartments are being built all over Charlotte too. 

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19 minutes ago, KJHburg said:

was a cause of this fire found yet? I am not in the area very curious since these stick built apartments are being built all over Charlotte too. 

Not that I am aware of. The last I knew the various agencies were asking the public for help. Also an apartment was raided in north Raleigh with a supposed connection to the fire, but nothing else about that has been announced. 

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18 hours ago, Jones_ said:

Not that I am aware of. The last I knew the various agencies were asking the public for help. Also an apartment was raided in north Raleigh with a supposed connection to the fire, but nothing else about that has been announced. 

I had heard it was the home of the York security guard who was on duty there at the time but he was cleared. York is pretty terrible - our HOA dropped our contract with them late last year in favor of another provider.

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3 hours ago, InitialD said:

I had heard it was the home of the York security guard who was on duty there at the time but he was cleared. York is pretty terrible - our HOA dropped our contract with them late last year in favor of another provider.

Ok thanks. Seems like a legitimate person to go ahead and clear. Property management is one of those things...HOAs want to keep their fees down and low bid that stuff, but when you use a low bid, you get what you pay for. My old place used York when I was there (probably still do) and the property managers were all young and motivated at first, but quickly wore out and left after having to put up with mediocre pay for dealing with the circus that is a typical HOA governed community. This is an aside to the guards, which we only used for special events or during a big construction project on site of something...

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I had a thought for the rebuild of the Metropolitan site.  Salvage only the parking deck and demolish everything else... build a Skyhouse at the corner, add a small parking deck with tennis & basketball courts on top, and fill in the gaps of the site with row houses.  Going with a Skyhouse might be the quickest route for the developer to get through this project since the engineering/design is already done and copy/pasted and the construction is fairly streamlined.  I doubt they would try to rebuild with the current plans, right?

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I actually don't think the parking deck is salvageable. Part of the top floor fell in due to the cars burning on the top level and the rebar is exposed  on the west and south sides. Its a tinker toy deck, so they'll just grind up the pieces, pull out the steel, remelt that, and start anew. So I think you really have a blank slate to play with. However the insurance likely is only going to pay for the cost of the work performed to date. The developer only had financing to build as designed. Anything more than that would require more financing. Not sure if they can get it or not...the prospectus accounted for a certain cost to develop this and it would need totally reworked as well. BUT, I'll still join in with the dreaming and hope somebody out there with influence reads this forum...

Facing Jones (not me, the street ha!), along the whole parcel, this vintage building is fairly easy to recreate with modern materials. My thought is to compliment the Quorum's scale and quality construction.

Then a row of tightly packed detached 'town houses' that are designed by the Raleigh Architecture firm. All unique. So like 6-8 of these facing Harrington, not quite to the Lane corner.  

Facing Lane, I think we need something that looks flashy coming into town from the north. A second apartment building with retail in high Art Deco style is my choice. Two stick out in my mind because of the unexpected areas I found them. Astoria OR and Spokane WA. Durham, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Jacksonville FL all have similar buildings that I've seen in the last year or so. I love them. We have zero. This faces what is still a GoTriangle property originally planned to be a light rail stop, so it should be a nice building. I am super sick of the max-profit-for-the-investor approach to building stuff nowadays. 

I realize I am mixing modernist and classical styles on the same block but think it works with a green pocket park separating the three sets of buildout. 

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1 hour ago, Jones_ said:

I actually don't think the parking deck is salvageable. Part of the top floor fell in due to the cars burning on the top level and the rebar is exposed  on the west and south sides. Its a tinker toy deck, so they'll just grind up the pieces, pull out the steel, remelt that, and start anew.

Yeah, from the pictures I've seen of the deck it very well could be a complete demo of the site to earth again.  From a liability point of view it wouldn't surprise me if there's just too much structural damage to the concrete and reinforcing rebar to keep it.

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On 4/21/2017 at 2:49 PM, Jones_ said:

However the insurance likely is only going to pay for the cost of the work performed to date.

Yeah, and I wonder what will have happened to construction costs between the time when contracts were signed and the time when new contracts are signed. I also wonder if the developer will have to make design changes to appease potential occupants. 

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In the water and sewer industry (what I am exposed to most often) things have leveled off recently...but who knows for large residential construction. It'll be interesting to see what changes we get and what those changes are pinned to...

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Posted (edited)

you have a hard time believing that somebody would jeopardize the livelihood of somebody else in the name of money?   in my experience, that's pretty much the only way most people operate with some exceptions. 

Edited by BullDurhamer

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Was in Raleigh today wanted to see the fire site. Wow it broke out all the windows in that condo tower and even melted their sign on the top.  And I heard they can not find a cause. I am guessing they will rebuild? 

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A few of the windows were shattered by the heat, but most were simply damaged enough to warrant knocking them out.  I watched crews bust them all out over the course of a couple of days. Nobody knows what the developers plans are for the Metropolitan. Quorum will surely be repaired but based on my experience it'll be a solid year from the fire before residents actually move back in. 

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The Grenfell Tower fire in London has stimulated a lot of criticism there about construction methods. Of note is an allegation that wood battens were used to attach the new aluminum-clad siding to the structure when it was re-skinned during a recent renovation. (The aluminum sandwich panels, which have a filler that is combustible under many circumstances, are getting most of the initial blame for why the fire spread so quickly on the outside of the structure.) There are many differences between UK/European codes and ours, and from what I've read those aluminum sandwich panels are not authorized for high-rise construction in the U.S.

But in reading about the fire, what caught my eye was a reference in the Wikipedia article: https://web.archive.org/web/20170614145423/http://www.cfoa.org.uk/11064 . It's a 2010 warning from the UK Chief Firefighters Association about the prevalence of timber frame construction and risks including damage to adjacent buildings. Sounds familiar. 

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