|All Wrapped Up:
Leaks Delay Sea Castle Opening
By Jorge Casuso
The new 178-unit Sea Castle Apartments has literally been put under wraps after its grand opening was pushed back by light rains that leaked through the windows, requiring major repairs, the Lookout has learned.
The damage -- which was the result of light showers shortly after the seven-story structure was completed in Spring -- will require replacing all the windows, applying new stucco to the exterior and repairing damage to some interior walls, according to City officials.
It has also left the Sea Castle wrapped in fabric, making the towering structure on the sand look more like a Christo sculpture than the luxury apartment building that was widely expected to open earlier this year.
"It's costing them a ton of money and they're not getting any rent," said Bruce Leach, the city planner assigned to the building between Pico Boulevard and the Santa Monica Pier.
A spokesman for the new Sea Castle -- which will replace the old art deco apartment building ravaged by fire nearly five years ago -- said the reopening was delayed because the final work wasn't "to their (the owner and contractors') satisfaction."
"They delayed it because they felt they needed additional construction work," said Mark Margolis, a spokesman for the Sea Castle. "It was nearing completion, they went through it and felt it wasn't to their satisfaction."
But City officials said the repairs were made after it was found that water from a light Spring rain had leaked through the windows.
"It came through, and, of course, that alarmed them," Leach said.
Leach said the owners then conducted tests by hosing water at the building to simulate rain and "found that around the windows they had leaks."
"It meant virtually stripping the stucco around the whole building," Leach said.
Leach said there was no reason to suspect trouble when the building was completed. "It's one of those things that appeared to be done right," he said. "The contractor is a very reputable contractor."
The contractor, Morley Construction, is responsible for several major developments and construction projects in the city, including the massive retrofitting of Westminister Towers, near Lincoln and Wilshire Boulevards. The company is currently building the new Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles.
The exterior work at the Sea Castle was subcontracted to Keller Builders, who "felt that it wasn't what they wanted," Margolis said.
Leach said the windows may not have been properly designed.
The former rent-controlled building is expected to fetch between $1,995 a month for a 450-square-foot studio and $2,195-a-month for a 550-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, Margolis said.
Forty-five of the units will be deed restricted for low and moderate-income tenants. They will range from $600 to $1000. Former tenants of the Sea Castle who submitted their names will be given priority.
"Everything had been keyed up for giving them (former tenants) opportunity for re-occupancy last Spring when this rain problem came up," Leach said. "A letter was sent that it had been delayed."
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