The 230-unit 1800 Broadway apartment complex near the Pearl is beset with a mold infestation that will likely require replacement of the complex’s exterior and force many current tenants to move to different apartments once the remediation project begins, according to construction industry sources and documentation obtained by the Rivard Report.

Management does not want tenants to vacate the premises, one industry source said, meaning the project will take several years to complete if the work is tackled section by section, with residents being moved internally to accommodate the work. If past instances of mold infestation in residential projects is a guide, management likely will have to deal with tenants who want out of their leases amid concerns over potential health issues.

Barely four years old, the multifamily residential project is one of several large apartment complexes that have opened around the Pearl and Museum Reach, part of a larger surge in urban core residential and commercial development. Now 1800 Broadway faces a difficult, high-profile remediation and reconstruction project that one source said could take five years to complete.

The building at the intersection of Broadway and Grayson streets was finished in May 2013. It recently underwent some repairs to “address water infiltration issues and it remains committed to continuing to do so,” stated Heidi Stotts, senior property manager at 1800 Broadway for Churchill Forge Properties, in an email.

“The water infiltration is related to construction issues,” she added later.

Sources said the major hail storm that struck San Antonio in April 2016, the costliest in Texas history, damaged the roof at 1800 Broadway and might have led to the mold infestation.

“Where there is water, there is mold,” said one industry source who asked not to be identified.

It’s still unclear, according to Stotts, how pervasive the problem is.

“1800 Broadway has consultants working on those issues, including the timing, duration, and scope of repairs,” Stotts wrote. “When all of those matters have been determined, 1800 Broadway will be communicating future repair processes to its residents.”

A request for qualifications for the project indicates that it could potentially take five years to fix the problem, because managers do not want more than one-quarter of units being worked on at any given time. Brown Coffee Co. and San Antonio Bike Shop occupy retail space at the ground level facing Broadway Street and would be included in the first phase, according to the RFQ.

“We’re aware of the construction project,” stated Brown Coffee owner Aaron Blanco in an email to the Rivard Report on Friday. “These things are never optimal, but we plan to do what we always do: work hard to provide the best opportunity for our customers to keep getting our coffee the best way we can.”

One construction industry source estimated that it would take less than two years to evacuate the entire four-story building and address the problem, but owners do not want to displace residents. The source also speculated that it would take about 18 months to demolish and rebuild the building entirely.

A VIA Metropolitan Transit bus stops in front of 1800 Broadway.
A VIA Metropolitan Transit bus stops in front of 1800 Broadway. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

About 95% of the building is occupied, according to information contained in leasing brochure, and apartments are still being advertised for rent.

The RFQ did not indicate what caused the initial water damage.

“Project [1800 Broadway] has suffered from widespread water leakage that has resulted in severe and widespread interior and exterior damage to many of the building components,” states the RFQ. ” … The project will occur while the complex is occupied. Operational requirements are that no more than 25% of units will be displaced during any phase of the project.”

The repairs outlined in the RFQ are not yet scheduled, Stotts stated. Once a more solid timeline emerges, “1800 Broadway will be communicating future repair processes to its residents and to new tenants who may be impacted by future repairs. 1800 Broadway is committed to ensuring as little disruption as possible to its tenants in the repair process, and to the extent that will happen, it will be discussed with existing and new tenants.”

The apartment complex is composed of one- and two-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $1,100 to $3,400 per month. Most units lease for $1,500-$2,500 per month for apartments between about 750-1,410 sq. ft. Rents are similar to other new apartment complexes near the Pearl and along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River, where units go for up to $2 per square foot. The property features a swimming pool, indoor and outdoor social spaces, 24-hour gym, business center, and concierge.

Churchill Forge purchased the apartment building in 2015 from Massachusetts Criterion Development Company, according to Bexar County Appraisal District records.

In 2010, the St. Benedict Lofts in Southtown experienced a smaller bout with mold; only a few tenants were moved to hotels for a night or two. The problem was reportedly fixed within a month.

Capital Project Management, which was listed as the owner’s representative on the RFQ, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

The Rivard Report was able to speak with a few residents of 1800 Broadway. None wanted their names used.  One woman said she enjoyed living there and being able to walk to some of the “best restaurants in town,” at the Pearl.  She was unaware of any looming construction projects.

One man that splits his time between San Antonio and an out-of-state city said he, too, enjoys the location and staff, but said the building appears “shabbier” than it used to be when he moved in about three years ago. He noticed construction workers inspecting the building this year and last year.

“They were constantly opening up little holes in [the outside of] the building and going all around the building checking it … then putting it back and painting over,” he said. The tenant also said he was unaware of a mold infestation. As far as he knew, management had not shared that information with tenants.

The health effects of mold infestation vary, but remediation is a time-consuming, costly undertaking that does not always result in complete eradication of mold. Health problems associated with mold infestations often lead to major lawsuits. For more background, click here.

“Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or skin irritation. Health effects could be severe for people with mold allergies.

Mold needs food, moisture, warmth, and oxygen to survive and can spread easily within walls, according to the CDC.

“Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.”

Moisture control is key to preventing the spread of mold, and moisture is something there’s no shortage of in San Antonio’s air.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org